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.
In one aspect of the case, between 2012 and 2014 Harris defrauded FEMA out of almost $25,000 by falsely claiming she had been forced out of her home by Hurricane Sandy.
New York Assembly woman Pamela Harris, 57, from Brooklyn, was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements, bankruptcy fraud, witness tampering and 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.
Harris faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if she is convicted of charges related to making false statements to FEMA.
Among the agencies Harris allegedly defrauded: The city's Department of Youth and Community Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the city's Build it Back Program.
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. Harris, who at the time of her filing was getting $1,550 a month from FEMA as a result of the misrepresentations she made, told the Bankruptcy Trustee that she was receiving $1,200 a month in financial aid from the same landlord to whom she told FEMA she was paying $1,550 a month in rent.
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 was elected to the city council in 2015.
Though the future assemblywoman claimed to have rented studio space for CIGG at a cost of $22,800, the indictment says there was no rental agreement and Harris forged a landlord's signature on the paperwork.
Harris spent the money on household expenses, her mortgage, at stores like Victoria's Secret and on airfare and cruise tickets, according to prosecutors.
Meanwhile, according to the indictment, Harris "concealed financial assets from the bankruptcy court to avoid having the assets used to pay her creditors".
According to the indictment, Harris spent some of the proceeds of crimes on personal expenses, including airline and cruise tickets for herself and her spouse totaling almost $10,000. 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.
Unrelated to Tuesday's indictment, Brook-Krasny, the former assemblyman whom Harris succeeded in office, faces criminal charges as well.