New York Democrat Accused of Stealing $25000 in Hurricane Sandy Money


According to the indictment, she faces a total of 11 counts: two for wire fraud, one for wire fraud conspiracy, one for disaster relief fraud, three for false statements, two for bankruptcy fraud, one for conspiracy to obstruct justice, and one for witness tempering.

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.

A NY state lawmaker was charged with 11 counts of fraud and obstruction of justice, accused of defrauding government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars, including hurricane relief money, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

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.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release that Pamela Harris, a New York State Assemblywoman, was indicted for a number of offenses, including wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and making false statements. Harris provided FEMA cash receipts showing that she supposedly paid monthly rent between $1,550 and $2,500 to the landlord from November 2012 to January 2014, prosecutors said.

Harris represents Bay Ridge, Beach Haven, Brightwater Towers, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and nearby neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

She allegedly stole tens of thousands in city and state funds, officials said.

'When she learned that law enforcement was investigating her various fraud schemes, she pressured witnesses to lie to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and cover them up, ' US Attorney Richard Donoghue told the Daily News. She also faces a maximum of five years on each of the bankruptcy fraud or other false statements charges. "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.

Between that August and the following July, authorities said, Harris defrauded the New York City Council out of nearly $23,000 in so-called discretionary funding by "falsely claiming that the not-for-profit would use the funds to rent a studio space", according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters also blasted the scheme.

Though the future assemblywoman claimed to have rented studio space for CIGG at a cost of $22,800, the indictment says there was no rental agreement and Harris forged a landlord's signature on the paperwork. Once the not-for-profit got the funding, Harris redirected the funds to her personal checking account and used the money to pay for personal expenses.

Harris also filed for false bankruptcy protection in 2013, officials said.

Harris is the second person in a row to represent the 46th Assembly District in Brooklyn to have been indicted.