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Update on embezzler in Baltimore mayor’s office

July 22, 2013

Renita Franklin-Thrower May 2013 FB profile picOn July 12, we reported on the ongoing legal troubles of Renita Franklin-Thrower, a federally convicted embezzler who, until recently, worked at the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office for Employment Development (MOED).She got the job – a grant-funded position to provide green-jobs training – about 14 months after her release from prison for embezzling nearly $30,000 from the American Red Cross, and held it for nearly two years until the end of June, about a week before she appeared in Baltimore federal court on an arrest warrant issued by a Washington, D.C., federal judge because she failed to appear in May for a status conference in her criminal case. While she worked at MOED, an open warrant was out for her arrest on separate, state charges involving a theft-scheme, to which she pleaded guilty early this year.

On July 19, MOED spokesman Brice Freeman sent City Paper an email with information about the situation. “I’d like to clarify a couple of things,” Freeman wrote. Franklin-Thrower “was not hired to ‘run’ the green jobs training program, as was written in the headline and first paragraph” of the piece, and “her position, Green Job Navigator, did not include any fiduciary responsibilities.”

When City Paper, in response, asked Freeman whether MOED had hired “anyone other than [Franklin-Thrower] for the green jobs training program” and, if not, “why wouldn’t be accurate to say she ran it?” Freeman explained that, “We have several career navigator-type positions that work collaboratively on special projects and training opportunities in order to connect job seekers to opportunities. Individual grants, like this one, often pay for only one position. Those positions serve as the point of contact and report to others with management responsibilities who actually manage the projects.”

Regarding City Paper’s prior questions about the city’s hiring process, and whether or not the city knew of Franklin-Thrower’s embezzling conviction before she was hired, Freeman wrote that the city’s “routine criminal background investigations … cover the state(s) of an applicant’s residence for a period of seven years,” and do not include “federal activities,” which are looked at in “positions (not the one in question) [that] require more detailed searches.”

City Paper, on July 16, received an email, purportedly from “Renita Franklin” and using an email address with the name of a tutoring business Franklin-Thrower started earlier this year, saying, “I would like the article retracted because it is my past and not your present concern,” and adding that “whatever I have done is my business and not everyone else [sic].” She also wrote that “I got the job with MOED by being honest about my past history.”