Brooklyn Assemblywoman Pamela Harris indicted on corruption charges

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A Brooklyn assemblywoman has been indicted on fraud charges and accused of misusing almost $50,000 of federal and state dollars for personal luxuries.

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.

Harris, 57, 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, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of NY.

Harris, who was elected to the assembly in a special election in November 2015, fended off a primary challenge in September 2016. She never actually lived on Staten Island, but instead created fake lease agreements and receipts, forged a landlord's signature on those documents and submitted them to FEMA, which disbursed $24,800 to her.

She was arrested Tuesday morning and was expected to make a federal court appearance for arraignment later in the day.

"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".

Not only was Harris accused of stealing from the government, she reportedly stole almost $25,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), that was responsible for helping NY and New Jersey rebuild after Hurricane Sandy hit the states hard in 2012.

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While her constituents struggled with the hurricane's devastation, "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", said FBI New York field office head William Sweeney Jr.

According to officials, after Harris became aware of a grand jury investigation into her alleged fraud schemes early a year ago, she told witnesses to lie to FBI investigators, "which the witnesses did", according to the indictment.

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. She again deceived the Council by saying the funds would be used for rental space.

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.

The final scheme described in Tuesday's indictment involves Harris' filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2013 after she owed approximately $60,000 on her mortgage for the Coney Island property. When the not-for-profit got the discretionary funding, she rerouted the funds-$11,400-for her personal use.

To establish in bankruptcy court that she could cure any arrears, the indictment says Harris inflated her monthly income by falsely representing to the court that she was getting $1,200 in financial assistance every month from the individual identified as Landlord #2. Both statements were false.

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

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