South Brooklyn Assemblymember Pamela Harris indicted on fraud charges


A NY state lawmaker was accused of pocketing tens of thousands of dollars meant for Superstorm Sandy victims in an 11-count felony indictment unveiled Tuesday.

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.

Between 2012 and 2014, Harris swindled FEMA out of almost $25,000 by falsely claiming to FEMA she had been forced out of her residence by Hurricane Sandy, according to the 11-count indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn.

The indictments include two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of making false statements, two counts of bankruptcy fraud, and one count of witness tampering and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, CBS New York reported.

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

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. Instead, she continued to live at her Coney Island home and pocketed the FEMA payments to the fake Staten Island landlord.

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

More news: Ticats confirm offer has been made to Manziel

"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", Donoghue said.

Prosecutors say the city awarded CIGG more than $42,000 in discretionary funds for fiscal year 2015 based in part on fraudulent documentation supplied by Harris. Harris replaced Alec Brook-Krasny, who quit the assembly and then was later indicted on health care fraud and bribery charges. She submitted a forged lease agreement and diverted the money to her personal checking account.

She spent the money on household expenses, her mortgage, at stores like Victoria's Secret and on airfare and cruise tickets, prosecutors said.

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

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.

Her attorneys said in a statement that Harris, who represents a district in New York City's Brooklyn borough, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Her Albany and district offices were not available for comment on Tuesday.