Pamela Harris, 57, from Brooklyn, a New York Democratic Assemblywoman was indicted for stealing over twenty five thousand dollars that was given bt FEMA to help those who were devastated by Sandy. Harris was charged with was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements, bankruptcy fraud, witness tampering and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Harris spent the money on vacations and cruises as well as paying her Victoria’s Secret bill. Authorities arrested Harris on Tuesday and she went before a federal judge later in the day. If convicted Harris is facing up to fifty years in prison.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said :
“In fact, at a time when many residents in her district were dealing with the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Harris was busy brewing a storm of her own, one that resulted in her receiving significant payouts by the very federal agency charged with helping those truly in need.”
“These types of crimes threaten the financial stability of our local and federal governments, but when a public official is involved, even more is at risk. Today we are proud to put an end to this inexcusable scheme.”
Harris committed fraud by claiming her house was badly damaged. She faked a lease and rent payments for another house on Staten Island and sought reimbursement for her rental. She also tried to get a witness to lie for her.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue stated:
“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. 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. When she learned that law enforcement was investigating her various fraud schemes, she pressured witnesses to lie to the FBI and cover them up.”
She is also accused of taking $23,000 in for-city funds intended for a children’s not-for-profit and put it directly into her checking account, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported. The indictment further claims she also stole $25,000 in FEMA money for Sandy recovery and Build It Back money from the city when she falsely claimed she had to relocate due to storm damage to her Neptune Avenue home.