March 18, 2018

Main » NY state lawmaker charged with fraud, obstructing justice

NY state lawmaker charged with fraud, obstructing justice

10 January 2018

A lot of Harris' work since she was elected in November 2015 has been in aiding the victims of Superstorm Sandy, and as the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI's New York Field Office pointed out, she stole money that was meant to help the very victims she purported to help.

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.

Court documents claim Harris lied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2012 about the level of damage Hurricane Sandy caused her Coney Island home.

According to the 21-page federal indictment, Harris defrauded the City Council of almost $23,000 by falsely claiming the money would cover the rent for a Brooklyn nonprofit.

Harris is the second person in a row to represent the 46th Assembly District in Brooklyn to have been indicted.

Harris is at least the 44th state lawmaker to face ethical or legal charges since 2000, according to a database the USA TODAY Network maintains.

Harris actually stayed in the undamaged house while allegedly filing phony rent payment receipts and a bogus lease agreement for a Staten Island residence.

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.

Before and during her tenure as assemblywoman, Harris allegedly went to great lengths to defraud local and federal agencies, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement.

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

"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", Donoghue said.

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. Once the not-for-profit got the funding, Harris redirected the funds to her personal checking account and used the money to pay for personal expenses.

Prosecutors say the city awarded CIGG more than $42,000 in discretionary funds for fiscal year 2015 based in part on fraudulent documentation supplied by Harris.

The politician spent $10,000 of her ill-gotten gains on vacation getaways, covering airline and cruise tickets for the politician and her husband, officials charged. Prosecutors say the lab where the 59-year-old suited up after leaving office helped three pill mills defraud Medicaid to the tune of $6.3 million.

NY state lawmaker charged with fraud, obstructing justice