Brooklyn Assemb. Pamela Harris indicted in fraud schemes

NY Lawmaker Accused of Stealing Aid Designed to Help Superstorm Sandy Victims

While head of a Brooklyn nonprofit between August 2015 and July 2015, Harris allegedly used $23,000 meant to rent a studio for personal use in her checking account, according to the indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced an 11-count indictment against a Brooklyn assemblywoman on Tuesday, alleging a raft of fraud, witness tampering and other charges, just the latest allegation of corruption and bad behavior among legislators in Albany.

Authorities on Tuesday said a Brooklyn assemblywoman cheated the federal government out of Superstorm Sandy money and New York City out of funds intended for charities, spending some of the proceeds of the crimes on her mortgage, vacations and merchandise from Victoria's Secret.

In one aspect of the case, between 2012 and 2014 Harris defrauded FEMA out of almost $25,000 by falsely claiming she had been forced out of her home by Hurricane Sandy.

Ms. Harris, a retired corrections officer, was to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon before a United States magistrate.

In addition to the Hurricane Sandy-related frauds, Harris faces charges over an estimated $76,000 that the New York City Council awarded the nonprofit Coney Island Generation Gap, which Harris founded in 2003.

Harris is accused of defrauding the New York City Council, the city's Department of Youth and Community Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city's Build it Back Program and U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Between March and May 2017, after Harris learned of the grand jury's investigation into her various fraud schemes, she directed witnesses to lie to FBI agents conducting the probe, which the witnesses did.

Harris, of Coney Island, wasn't immediately available for comment. "This Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring that those who serve the public are held accountable under the law to the same extent as the people they are privileged to serve", he added.

In four alleged schemes between 2012 to 2016, Assemblywoman Pamela Harris, 57, submitted falsified documents to obtain government funds for personal use, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Harris, who was elected in 2015, allegedly defrauded City Council, the city's Department of Youth and Community Development, FEMA, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city's Build It Back Program and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of NY.

She was specifically accused of spending $10,000 of government money to pay for airline and cruise tickets for herself and her husband. She again deceived the Council by saying the funds would be used for rental space. Prosecutors say Harris did not disclose this account on forms filed with the bankruptcy court that listed her and her husband's combined cash and funds at $2,645. If convicted on all 11 counts, Harris, who was elected in November 2015 in a special election and was re-elected in 2016, faces a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison.

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