Brooklyn Assemblywoman Indicted on Fraud Charges

NY Assemblywoman Pamela Harris was indicted Tuesday on multiple counts of fraud

The assemblywoman representing Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and other Brooklyn communities allegedly committed the crimes between 2012 and 2016.

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.

William F. Sweeney, Jr., head of New York's FBI office, said that "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". The Staten Island landlord Harris claimed to have been paying in cash every month - between $1,550 and $2,500 a go - is identified in the charging papers as Landlord #2. She never actually lived on Staten Island, but instead created fake lease agreements and receipts, forged a landlord's signature on those documents and submitted them to FEMA, which disbursed $24,800 to her.

For example, Harris fraudulently applied for FEMA temporary housing assistance after Hurricane Sandy, according to investigators. Prosecutors said that among other things, this Brooklyn-based Democrat improperly took cash meant for Hurricane Sandy disaster relief funds.

In one scheme, prosecutors accused Ms. Harris, 57, of improperly receiving almost $25,000 in federal disaster funds by falsely claiming that she had been displaced from her Coney Island home by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

To ensure that the construction on her Coney Island home got underway, according to the indictment, Harris made further misrepresentations.

Harris was being investigated around this time by a federal grand jury for various fraud schemes.

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

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If convicted, Harris faces up to 30 years in prison.

Harris was elected to the city council in 2015.

According to the 21-page federal indictment, Harris defrauded the City Council of almost $23,000 by falsely claiming the money would cover the rent for a Brooklyn nonprofit.

According to the indictment, Harris spent some of the proceeds of crimes on personal expenses, including airline and cruise tickets for herself and her spouse totaling almost $10,000. She then did the "nearly identical scheme" once she became an assemblywoman.

And in November 2013, she filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, according to the indictment, Harris "concealed financial assets from the bankruptcy court to avoid having the assets used to pay her creditors".

The 57-year-old spent $10,000 of her ill-gotten gains on vacation getaways, reported the New York Daily News. Authorities said her looting of government funds went on from 2012 through 2017.

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