NY Lawmaker Accused of Stealing Aid Designed to Help Superstorm Sandy Victims

In one incident in 2012 the 57-year-old allegedly turned Hurricane Sandy recovery into a money-making scheme by lying about damage to her Coney Island home. The indictment says she took nearly $25,000 from the agency and pocketed it because she did not

In one incident in 2012 the 57-year-old allegedly turned Hurricane Sandy recovery into a money-making scheme by lying about damage to her Coney Island home. The indictment says she took nearly $25,000 from the agency and pocketed it because she did not

Pamela Harris surrendered to the FBI on Tuesday after an 11-count federal indictment against her was unsealed, law enforcement officials said.

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.

In one incident in 2012, the 57-year-old allegedly turned Hurricane Sandy recovery into a money-making scheme by lying about damage to her Coney Island home.

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

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

In addition to the Hurricane Sandy-related frauds, Harris faces charges over an estimated $76,000 that the New York City Council awarded the nonprofit Coney Island Generation Gap, which Harris founded in 2003.

The indictment says she took almost $25,000 from the agency and pocketed it because she did not need the money to fix her undamaged home. "As if these allegations weren't enough, Harris allegedly obstructed a federal investigation into the matters at hand, asking others to lie on her behalf, as alleged".

The schemes date back to August 2014, when Harris served as the executive director of a not-for-profit organization called Coney Island Generation Gap, authorities said.

"As alleged in the indictment, the defendant defrauded government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars in public funds and tried to fraudulently obtain even more", said Richard P. Donoghue, Interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of NY.

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"The brazen corruption charged as a result of this investigation tramples on the very definition of a public servant", Peters said in a statement.

Between that August and the following July, authorities said, Harris defrauded the New York City Council out of nearly $23,000 in so-called discretionary funding by "falsely claiming that the not-for-profit would use the funds to rent a studio space", according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

She submitted a forged lease agreement to DYCD, the government entity that manages and doles out the Council's discretionary fund.

Between July 2015 and January 2017, Harris committed a almost identical scheme-but this time as a sitting Assemblywoman.

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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.

Just a day before she told FEMA about her Staten Island rental, the indictment says Harris made a different claim to defraud the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. During that time, the DOJ said, Harris diverted $11,400 in fraudulently acquired funds for personal use.

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

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

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