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NY Assemblywoman Pamela Harris Indicted On Fraud, Witness Tampering Charges

NY Assemblywoman Pamela Harris Indicted On Fraud, Witness Tampering Charges

NY state Assemblywoman Pamela Harris was indicted on fraud charges Tuesday for what prosecutors said was the theft of tens of thousands in city and federal dollars meant for superstorm Sandy victims and programs to aid vulnerable youth.

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 arrested on Tuesday morning, and is expected to make her first appearance in Federal court to be arraigned later in the afternoon.

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. When Harris got wind of the grand jury investigation into her alleged schemes, officials said she instructed witnesses to lie to FBI agents - and they did.

She faces two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of making false statements, two counts of bankruptcy fraud, one count of witness tampering and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

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.

She submitted fake lease agreements to FEMA that she had allegedly entered into with the landlord of the Staten Island residence, as well as fraudulent rent payment receipts, the indictment said.

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

Harris was elected to the city council in 2015.

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.

"The defendant defrauded government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars in public funds and tried to fraudulently obtain even more", said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue in a statement. She again deceived the Council by saying the funds would be used for rental space. She then did the "nearly identical scheme" once she became an assemblywoman.

To establish in bankruptcy court that she could cure any arrears, the indictment says Harris inflated her monthly income by falsely representing to the court that she was getting $1,200 in financial assistance every month from the individual identified as Landlord #2.

The 57-year-old spent $10,000 of her ill-gotten gains on vacation getaways, reported the New York Daily News.

Harris' predecessor in the Brooklyn district she was representing, Alec Brook-Krasny, was indicted previous year in connection with producing opioids.

Harris' office did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment.


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