NY assemblywoman indicted on fraud and other charges

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Pamela Harris. Pamela Harris State Assembly 46th District  Facebook

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Pamela Harris. Pamela Harris State Assembly 46th District Facebook

From 2012 and 2016, Harris defrauded various government agencies, including the City Council, the city's Department of Youth and Community Development, FEMA, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the NYC Build It Back Program and U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of NY, according to Richard Donoughue, interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of NY.

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. She is accused of pocketing money that was to cover a relocation to Staten Island in the wake of the storm.

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.

It notes that Harris and her husband lived in Coney Island in fall 2012 when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast. She also made other false claims to convince Build It Back to pay for significant construction to her home. They said she submitted similar claims to the Federal.

Associated plots sought to drain money from other government entities like the New York City Council, as well as hiding $10,010.08 from creditors in bankruptcy court, the indictment said.

A Democrat who just won re-election in 2016, Pamela Harris represents District 46 in the state Assembly, covering the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Coney Island and Dyker Heights. An obstruction-of-justice charge alleges she convinced others to lie between last March and May after she became aware of a grand jury probe.

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

If convicted of the charges, Harris could face more than 50 years in prison.

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According to officials, after Harris became aware of a grand jury investigation into her alleged fraud schemes early previous year, she told witnesses to lie to FBI investigators, "which the witnesses did", according to the indictment.

"She conducted her schemes victimizing the federal and New York City governments, and then obstructed a federal investigation into her crimes while a sitting New York state assemblywoman".

New York City Department of Investigation (DOI) Commissioner Mark G. Peters described to the charges as being a result of "brazen corruption".

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.

Between July 2015 and January 2017, Harris committed a almost identical scheme-but this time as a sitting Assemblywoman. When the not-for-profit got the discretionary funding, she rerouted the funds-$11,400-for her personal use.

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

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.

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