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Ex-Pierce County public housing finance director pleads guilty in $6.9 million fraud

Cova Campbell, the former finance director, pleaded guilty to taking nearly $7 million from the public agency in three years.

Editor's note: the above video ran in 2019.

A former Pierce County Housing Authority finance director pleaded guilty on Friday to wire fraud in connection with her scheme to steal nearly $7 million to buy personal property, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Cova Campbell, also known as Cova Hunter, was fired from her position as finance director at the Pierce County Housing Authority in 2019 after the state auditor uncovered financial irregularities.

She had been in charge of the public agency's $32 million annual budget, with little oversight. Campbell was arrested last year in Oklahoma.

The auditor's office reported that Campbell and her husband had stolen $6.9 million since 2016 and used the money to buy property in Oklahoma, among other things.

The Pierce County Housing Authority is a public government agency that provides housing opportunities for people with lower incomes. Campbell was in charge of the housing authority's budget, which comes from federal, local and state programs, as well as from rent on its properties.

The auditor reported that the fraud included $25,000 in personal purchases on the Housing Authority's credit cards, $3.2 million in transactions disguised as vendor payments, $635,000 in wire transfers to an out of state bank and more than $3 million in wire transfers directly to Campbell's personal account.

The wire transfers were as high as $500,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Campbell also falsified invoices, labeling them as investments, insurance or maintenance.

Campbell pleaded guilty to using the money to main her property in Oklahoma, for improvements to her Lakewood home and for travel, including trips to Las Vegas and the chartering of a private jet, according to the announcement from the U.S. Attorney's Office. She also admitted to using the money for the purchase of two cars and for gambling and internet gaming.

Campbell faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan on April 8, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. She also must pay restitution of $7 million.