An assemblywoman in the state of New York was indicted Tuesday on multiple federal corruption charges for allegedly stealing “tens of thousands of dollars” in federal and city funds, and tampering with witnesses.
Pamela Harris, 57, the assemblywoman who represents Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and other nearby communities, was charged with 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, CBS New York reported.
Harris is accused of defrauding multiple entities between 2012 and 2016, including the New York City Council, the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city’s Build it Back Program and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York.
“As alleged in the indictment, 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. “She conducted her schemes victimizing the federal and New York City governments, and then obstructed a federal investigation into her crimes while a sitting New York State Assemblywoman. When she learned that law enforcement was investigating her various fraud schemes, she pressured witnesses to lie to the FBI and cover them up.”
A special election held in 2015 allowed Harris to win a seat on the Assembly, and she was reelected in 2016. Federal prosecutors contend that Harris was committing crimes as the leader of a non-profit group assisting children in Coney Island prior to taking public office.
Harris is accused of depositing into her checking account more than $70,000 from the City Council that was intended to pay the organization’s rent. According to the indictment, Harris spent the money on airline tickets, a cruise and to pay bills from Victoria’s Secret.
Some of the charges against Harris stem from allegations that she stole money from FEMA for recovery from Sandy and Built It Back funds from New York City when she falsely claimed she was forced to relocate due to storm damage to her home.
Harris is scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday afternoon.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendant defrauded government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars in public funds and tried to fraudulently obtain even more,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.
— US Attorney EDNY (@EDNYnews) January 9, 2018
From a press release by the Department of Justice on Tuesday:
“Both before and during her tenure as a public servant, as alleged, Assemblywoman Pamela Harris went to great lengths to defraud local and federal agencies out of thousands of dollars,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “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. As if these allegations weren’t enough, Harris allegedly obstructed a federal investigation into the matters at hand, asking others to lie on her behalf, as alleged. These types of crimes threaten the financial stability of our local and federal governments, but when a public official is involved, even more is at risk. Today we are proud to put an end to this inexcusable scheme.”
“The brazen corruption charged as a result of this investigation tramples on the very definition of a public servant,” stated DOI Commissioner Peters. “This elected official exploited the public she was elected to serve by stealing from City and federal programs and then concealing the fraud with false statements and asking witnesses to obstruct the investigation, according to the indictment. DOI thanks the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the FBI for their partnership in working together to expose the array of wrongdoing charged in this indictment.”
Pamela Harris Defrauded Government Agencies out of Tens of Thousands of Dollars and Tampered with Witnesses
— US Attorney EDNY (@EDNYnews) January 9, 2018
The following video was from January 2016, when Harris first took her seat an a new Assemblymember. Harris said that “the 46th District has to get what they deserve, and I’m gonna stand steadfast and make sure that my district is well taken care of.”
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