A whistleblower led a grand jury to investigate the alleged scheme, which involved a state program to help parolees and other men become better fathers, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Wednesday.
The money was spent on lavish personal expenses, including limousine rides, political contributions and trips to Ghana, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., Kane said.
The defendants include the Bryon Noon, 45, of Lancaster, the former director of the Department of Public Welfare's defunct Bureau of Employment and Training Programs Division. The others are Lawrence Yancey, 61, of Philadelphia, who also known as Kofi Asante, and Anthony McNeil, 62, of Sicklerville, N.J.
Officials said that Noon allowed Yancey and McNeil, who ran the nonprofit National Comprehensive Center for Fathers, to use the grant money with little oversight. Yance sent his stepson and "spiritual advisor" on a $23,000 trip to Ghana to procure cotton for a sham company started by the nonprofit, the indictment said. The trip expenses allegedly included a $4,000 donation to the spiritual guide.
Yancey also spent $24,000 of the nonprofit's money on a down payment for a Philadelphia townhouse, authorities said.
The charges, including theft, deception and conspiracy, were being filed in Dauphin County.
"This is also a case about arrogance, about a former public official gone bad, and about the greed of those we charged today. They stole from the very fathers and ultimately the children they had a duty to assist," Kane said in a statement.
None of the defendants have a working phone number listed. It was not immediately clear Wednesday if they had lawyers.