Brooklyn Assemblywoman Indicted on FEMA Fraud

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Indicted on FEMA Fraud

New York State Assemblywoman Pamela Harris has been indicted on 11 counts of fraud and tampering, accused of defrauding numerous federal and local government entities.

Prosecutors say the 57-year-old Harris pocketed $25,000 in federal funds by falsely claiming that the October 29, 2012 storm chased her from her Coney Island residence.

"In fact, at a time when many residents in her district were dealing with the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Harris was busy brewing a storm of her own, one that resulted in her receiving significant payouts by the very federal agency charged with helping those truly in need", FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement to Fox News.

Court papers also claim Harris defrauded the City Council of almost $23,000 by saying, falsely, the money would go to pay rent for a Brooklyn nonprofit.

Her predecessor in the Brooklyn district, Alec Brook-Krasny, was indicted previous year in connection with the takedown of three pill mills accused of putting $6.3 million of opioids on the black market.

If convicted, Harris faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for one of the charges related to making false statements to FEMA and a maximum of 20 years on each of the wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, witness tampering or obstruction of justice conspiracy charges, officials said.

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"In furtherance of the scheme to defraud, Harris created fake lease agreements and receipts, forged Landlord #2's signature on the documents, and submitted those documents, along with the temporary housing applications, to FEMA, falsely representing that she had entered into a rental lease agreement with Landlord #2 and paid rent to live at the Staten Island residence in the months following Hurricane Sandy", the indictment states. Prosecutors also claimed that Harris tried to convince the Staten Island landlord and a man to lie to the grand jury about her living in that home.

The 57-year-old lawmaker, who was first elected in 2015, is accused of fraudulently pocketing $25,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and failing to disclose it during her recent bankruptcy proceedings.

She also is accused of keeping $23,000 in New York City money meant for Coney Island Generation Gap, a nonprofit she once led, and directing two people to lie to FBI investigators when they were interviewed in her case.

A woman who answered the phone at Harris' Brooklyn office Tuesday said neither the assemblywoman nor her communications staff would issue a comment. Harris allegedly used the money for vacations, cruise tickets and even her lingerie bill at Victoria's Secret.

Instead, she's accused of diverting the cash into her checking account to pay for personal expenses. Harris again made misrepresentations about rented studio space and again diverted the funds to her personal use, according to the indictment.

And in November 2013, she filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn. Authorities said her looting of government funds went on from 2012 through 2017.

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