Brooklyn Assemblywoman Indicted on Fraud Charges

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Indicted on Fraud Charges

On Tuesday, New York State Assemblymember Pamela Harris was indicted on multiple federal counts of fraud.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced an 11-count indictment against a Brooklyn assemblywoman on Tuesday, alleging a raft of fraud, witness tampering and other charges, just the latest allegation of corruption and bad behavior among legislators in Albany.

An indictment charges the 57-year-old assemblywoman representing Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and other nearby communities, with 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. Her lawyer declined comment prior to her arraignment.

Not only was Harris accused of stealing from the government, she reportedly stole almost $25,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), that was responsible for helping NY and New Jersey rebuild after Hurricane Sandy hit the states hard in 2012. Harris provided FEMA cash receipts showing that she supposedly paid monthly rent between $1,550 and $2,500 to the landlord from November 2012 to January 2014, prosecutors said.

In 2016, as a state assemblywoman, she submitted those fake documents to the city's Build it Back Program to obtain additional assistance for "substantial construction to her home", the indictment said.

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

According to the indictment, Harris used more than $70,000 from the City Council that was supposed to go for the organization's rent.

U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said in a release that Harris defrauded the government of tens of thousands of dollars.

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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.

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

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.

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

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

The politician spent $10,000 of her ill-gotten gains on vacation getaways, covering airline and cruise tickets for the politician and her husband, officials charged.

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

Unrelated to Tuesday's indictment, Brook-Krasny, the former assemblyman whom Harris succeeded in office, faces criminal charges as well.

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