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Lawmaker Fraudulently Took Cash Meant for Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief, Prosecutors Say

Lawmaker Fraudulently Took Cash Meant for Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief, Prosecutors Say

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Pamela Harris, a Democrat, has been indicted for cheating various government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars-including almost $25,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Hurricane Sandy-and tampering with witnesses, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of ny announced on Tuesday.

Photo The Legislature in Albany was in session on Tuesday, but Assemblywoman Pamela Harris was absent; her indictment on fraud charges was unsealed on Tuesday, and her arrest announced. Harris, who represents a district in New York City's Brooklyn borough, also allegedly defrauded a bankruptcy court and falsely claimed to have been forced out of her residence by Hurricane Sandy to get financial assistance, it said. In another scheme, she is also accused of defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency of almost $25,000 in temporary housing assistance by falsely claiming that she had been forced out of her Coney Island residence by Sandy, claiming that it was uninhabitable.

She also submitted "fake documents" to the Build it Back program to obtain financial assistance, making other false claims for funding used to make what authorities called "substantial construction to her home", prosecutors said. Prosecutors also claimed that Harris tried to convince the Staten Island landlord and a man to lie to the grand jury about her living in that home.

This is a breaking news story.

According to the indictment, between 2012 and 2016, Harris, who is 57-years-old, defrauded various governmental agencies including the City Council, Department of Youth and Community Development, FEMA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, NYC Build it Back Program and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

'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, ' US Attorney Richard Donoghue told the Daily News.

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"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".

Harris, who was elected in 2015, allegedly defrauded City Council, the city's Department of Youth and Community Development, FEMA, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city's Build It Back Program and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of NY.

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

Harris is accused of using some of the fraudulent funds to buy $10,000 worth of airline and cruise tickets for herself and her husband, make online payments to Victoria's Secret and Kohl's. During that time, the DOJ said, Harris diverted $11,400 in fraudulently acquired funds for personal use. Both statements were false.

Harris could face 30 years in prison if she is indicted on just the top count in her 1-count indictment, according to documents.