PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Treasurer Christian Dunbar, a descendant of Harriet Tubman, is facing federal charges for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars from bank customers and entering into a sham marriage to gain American citizenship. U.S. Attorney William McSwain says Dunbar was arrested by FBI agents on Friday morning.
The charges are not related to Dunbar’s work as city treasurer.
Mayor Jim Kenney says Dunbar, who is originally from Liberia, has been fired as city treasurer.
“The criminal complaint announced today does not involve Christian Dunbar’s work with the City of Philadelphia. But in light of the allegations, his employment has been terminated effective immediately. At the same time, I have asked Inspector General Alexander DeSantis to begin a thorough review of the City Treasurer’s Office during the time of Dunbar’s employment as both Deputy Treasurer and Treasurer. This review can help resolve any concerns about the Office’s conduct and transactions during this period,” Kenney said in a statement.
Dunbar is being accused of stealing a total of $15,000 from two customers at the Wells Fargo Bank in Newtown Square where he worked as a financial adviser, weeks before he was appointed as the city’s deputy treasurer in 2016.
McSwain says, on two separate occasions between December 2015 and January 2016, Dunbar urged both customers to sign blank withdrawal slips, which he used to transfer the money into his own account instead of the victims’ accounts.
The U.S. attorney also charged Dunbar with other crimes that he says began with his time as a student and football player at Temple University.
It was there, McSwain says, that Dunbar met his current wife, who is being referred to as “F.N.D.” She entered into a sham marriage with another person so she could gain citizenship.
McSwain says Dunbar also had another wife through the same process to get his own citizenship.
The two were allegedly in a relationship for years and lived in the same West Philadelphia address before marrying other people.
Dunbar and his wife had already married in Senegal and produced children together, but played out their sham marriages.
“The alleged conduct that is outlined in this case reveals a pattern of dishonesty, poor judgment and criminal behavior that spans many years,” McSwain said during a Friday press conference.
Over the last four years as treasurer, McSwain says, Dunbar was responsible for managing the city’s debt obligations, bank accounts — including its operation account, capital account and petty cash accounts in various departments — paying the city’s bills, and managing cash reserves.
If convicted, Dunbar faces a maximum possible sentence of 45 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $1.5 million.
Dunbar’s maternal grandfather, William V.S. Tubman, served as president of Liberia for 27 years. Dunbar is a descendant of Harriet Tubman, an American abolitionist and humanitarian.
CBS3’s Alecia Reid contributed to this report.