Brooklyn Assemblywoman Pamela Harris indicted on corruption charges


On Tuesday, New York State Assemblymember Pamela Harris was indicted on multiple federal counts of fraud.

Harris represents Bay Ridge, Beach Haven, Brightwater Towers, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and nearby neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

Her lawyer, Joel Cohen, declined to comment prior to her arraignment, which was expected to occur within hours.

And she was also accused of looting almost $25,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency by lying about damage to her Coney Island residence by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. When Harris got wind of the grand jury investigation into her alleged schemes, officials said she instructed witnesses to lie to FBI agents - and they did.

The indictments include two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of making false statements, two counts of bankruptcy fraud, and one count of witness tampering and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, CBS New York reported.

Harris, 57, could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the top count in her 11-count indictment. 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.

Harris was elected to the city council in 2015.

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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 papers also claim Harris defrauded the City Council of almost $23,000 by saying, falsely, the money would go to pay rent for a Brooklyn nonprofit. "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".

Just a day before she told FEMA about her Staten Island rental, the indictment says Harris made a different claim to defraud the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"In the weeks immediately following her deposit of Check 377 into her personal checking account, Harris used the funds held in the account to make online payments to several retailers, including Victoria's Secret and Kohl's, to pay the monthly mortgage payment on the Coney Island Residence, and to purchase airline and cruise tickets for herself and her spouse totaling almost $10,000", the indictment states. She then did the "nearly identical scheme" once she became an assemblywoman.

Harris also filed for false bankruptcy protection in 2013, officials said.

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