Lawmaker charged with pocketing Sandy funds

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NY state Assemblywoman Pamela Harris was indicted on fraud charges Tuesday for what prosecutors said was the theft of tens of thousands in city and federal dollars meant for superstorm Sandy victims and programs to aid vulnerable youth.

In one of the four alleged schemes, between August 2014 and July 2015, when Harris was executive director of a not-for-profit organization in Brooklyn, she is accused of defrauding New York City Council of $22,800 by falsely claiming the money would go toward rent for a studio art space for community use.

"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", FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement to Fox News.

She faces 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 predecessor in the Brooklyn district, Alec Brook-Krasny, was indicted past year in connection with the takedown of three pill mills accused of putting $6.3 million of opioids on the black market.

Pamela Harris, 57, of Brooklyn, was arrested and faces an 11-count indictment.

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. She continued to live at her Coney Island residence and pocketed the FEMA payments.

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South Brooklyn Assemblymember Pamela Harris, who represents Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Bath Beach and Dyker Heights, was arraigned in federal court on Tuesday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from government agencies and tampering with witnesses.

A woman who answered the phone at Harris' Brooklyn office Tuesday said neither the assemblywoman nor her communications staff would issue a comment. "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".

To get CIGG's operations subsidized by the city, according to the indictment, Harris billed her nonprofit as a mentorship program that connected teens and young adults living in Coney Island to media arts.

Harris spent the money on household expenses, her mortgage, at stores like Victoria's Secret and on airfare and cruise tickets, according to prosecutors.

Harris was elected to the city council in 2015. The same thing occurred with $35,000 in council funds awarded in 2016.

Meanwhile, according to the indictment, Harris "concealed financial assets from the bankruptcy court to avoid having the assets used to pay her creditors". 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.