Lawmaker charged with pocketing Sandy funds

Lawmaker charged with pocketing Sandy funds

Lawmaker charged with pocketing Sandy funds

A NY state assemblywoman has been indicted on fraud charges after authorities say she falsely claimed Superstorm Sandy forced her from her home.

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.

As NBC New York points out, despite the fact Harris's biography calls her a "vocal advocate" for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, part of the money she allegedly stole was money designated for FEMA relief efforts.

Prosecutors said she committed other frauds, including cheating the New York City Council out of discretionary funds meant for nonprofits.

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.

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 said storm damage was so severe to her home that she was forced to relocate from Coney Island to Staten Island, and even submitted fake lease agreements for the latter home.

Creed Scribe Aaron Covington Will Pen Black Panther
Black Panther's latest trailer is largely similar to the one from October, with new moments sprinkled in. We see Black Panther's humility when his sister Shuri bows in his presence and he tells her to stop.

Harris also claimed the Staten Island landlord "was giving her $1,200 in monthly rental assistance while under oath during a bankruptcy hearing in 2013", according to the indictment cited by NBC New York.

Harris, elected to the assembly in a November 2015 special election, was also charged with trying to illegally collect funds from the city's Build It Back program for Sandy victims. "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".

Where her Coney Island neighbors saw devastation, crooked state Assemblywoman Pamela Harris envisioned opportunity - and cashed in.

"In the weeks immediately following her deposit of Check 377 into her personal checking account, Harris used the funds held in the account to make online payments to several retailers, including Victoria's Secret and Kohl's, to pay the monthly mortgage payment on the Coney Island Residence, and to purchase airline and cruise tickets for herself and her spouse totaling almost $10,000", the indictment states. She also allegedly submitted false documents to FEMA for financial assistance and to have "substantial" construction done on her home.

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. Prosecutors say Harris did not disclose this account on forms filed with the bankruptcy court that listed her and her husband's combined cash and funds at $2,645.

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

Related news