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New York Democrat Accused of Stealing $25000 in Hurricane Sandy Money

10 January 2018

Harris looted tens of thousands of dollars in state and federal funds in several scams - and then tried to cover up her crimes, according to a newly-unsealed federal indictment.

From 2012 and 2016, Harris defrauded various government agencies, including the City Council, the city's Department of Youth and Community Development, FEMA, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the NYC Build It Back Program and U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of NY, according to Richard Donoughue, interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of NY. They said she submitted similar claims to the Federal.

According to the indictment, Harris allegedly used her position as executive director of a not-for-profit to get City Council to fork over $23,000 in discretionary funding between August 2014 and July 2015 by falsely claiming to use the money to rent a studio space.

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

Harris also allegedly lied and said her house had been so badly damaged that she had to move and even presented the government with fraudulent lease agreements and rent payments for another house in Staten Island.

And in 2016, while she was a sitting assemblywoman, she submitted the same fake documents to the NYC Build It Back Program to get additional financial help, according to federal officials. An obstruction-of-justice count alleges she convinced others to lie.

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

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Where her Coney Island neighbors saw devastation, crooked state Assemblywoman Pamela Harris envisioned opportunity - and cashed in. She also faces a maximum of five years on each of the bankruptcy fraud or other false statements charges.

To make matters worse, once Harris was under investigation, prosecutors alleged that she instructed witnesses to lie to FBI agents during the grand jury investigation, which they did.

She also is accused of keeping $23,000 in New York City money meant for Coney Island Generation Gap, a nonprofit she once led, and directing two people to lie to FBI investigators when they were interviewed in her case.

"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.

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

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

New York Democrat Accused of Stealing $25000 in Hurricane Sandy Money