Immigration/women’s rights advocate facing jail time in Maine

Update October 15thShe gets 6 months.  In sentencing her the Judge said, “The suggestion of no jail time is simply not an option. Everyone must comply with the law, even if they do good deeds.”  Thanks again to Susan for the tip.

This is an update on a story we first reported, here.   According to this article in the Portland Press Herald, she will be sentenced today.  Hat tip:  Susan.

PORTLAND — Federal prosecutors want the director of a Portland-based nonprofit organization to spend 15 months in prison for forging bank records and lying to her probation officer.

The lawyer for Shalom Odokara has said he will ask the judge for a sentence that doesn’t include prison time.

Odokara, 49, is scheduled to be sentenced this afternoon by Judge D. Brock Hornby in U.S. District Court. She pleaded guilty in June to two counts of making false statements to her probation officer, and has admitted to violating the terms of her probation for an earlier federal conviction.

Odokara is the founder and director of Women in Need Industries, and is well known in Maine as an advocate for women’s rights, immigrants and victims of domestic violence. The seventh annual Festival of Nations, created by Odokara, was held at Deering Oaks in July.

Until her resignation on July 2, Odokara was vice chair of the Portland Planning Board.

Most city officials were surprised by revelations about Odokara’s criminal history and her false statements, which came to light in June.

Odokara pleaded guilty in 2006 for her role in a scheme that involved the embezzlement of $108,000 from the World Bank. According to court records in Washington, D.C., Odokara was a consultant to the World Bank when she and a friend carried out the scheme over several months in 2001.

Her previous status as a do-gooder got her some legal breaks in the past, looks like her luck has run out on that score.

Wolff, the government prosecutor, said in court documents that the court went easy on Odokara for the World Bank conviction because of the positive work she has done with Women in Need.

“The defendant made a mockery of the court’s leniency, however, when she committed a new federal offense and violated her probation within weeks of being sentenced,” Wolff wrote. “The defendant’s incarceration will unfortunately halt the work done by her organization in the community. The defendant has only herself to blame for this consequence of her criminal behavior.”

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