New York Democrat Charged With Stealing Sandy Money

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
January 9, 2018News
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New York Democrat Charged With Stealing Sandy Money
Rachel Moran of Oceanside photographs Billy Farr of Long Beach amongst the wreckage of the boardwalk as Long Islanders continue their clean up efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in Long Beach, New York on Nov. 9, 2012. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A New York official was charged on Tuesday, Jan. 9, for allegedly defrauding government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars—including diverting money that would have gone to Hurricane Sandy relief.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release that Pamela Harris, a New York State Assemblywoman, was indicted for a number of offenses, including wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and making false statements.

“The defendant defrauded government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars in public funds and tried to fraudulently obtain even more,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue in a statement. “When she learned that law enforcement was investigating her various fraud schemes, she pressured witnesses to lie to the FBI and cover them up.”

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.

In one aspect of the case, between 2012 and 2014 Harris defrauded FEMA out of nearly $25,000 by falsely claiming she had been forced out of her home by Hurricane Sandy.


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. Instead, she continued to live at her Coney Island home and pocketed the FEMA payments to the fake Staten Island landlord.

The 57-year-old spent $10,000 of her ill-gotten gains on vacation getaways, reported the New York Daily News.

Along with airline and cruise tickets, the money went toward clothing from Victoria’s Secret.

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

If convicted, Harris faces up to 30 years in prison.

 

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