New York Democrat Accused of Stealing $25000 in Hurricane Sandy Money
10 January, 2018, 02:06 | Author: Edward Snyder
Her arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes, Jr.
And in 2016, while she was a sitting assemblywoman, she submitted the same fake documents to the NYC Build It Back Program to get additional financial help, according to federal officials.
The court papers say Harris also stole FEMA money for Sandy recovery and Build It Back money from New York City when she falsely claimed she had to relocate due to storm damage to her Neptune Avenue home.
"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", FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement to Fox News.
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.
Between August 2014 and July 2015, Harris, who was executive director of a not-for-profit organization in Brooklyn at the time, cheated the Council out of almost $23,000 in discretionary funding by falsely claiming the not-for-profit would use the money to rent a studio space, the court documents stated. 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 again made misrepresentations about rented studio space and again diverted the funds to her personal use, according to the indictment.
She is also accused of keeping $23,000 in New York City funds that were meant for Coney Island Generation Gap, a non-profit she once led, and directing two people to lie to FBI investigators when they were interviewed in her case. 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.
"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.
In addition to the Hurricane Sandy-related frauds, Harris faces charges over an estimated $76,000 that the New York City Council awarded the nonprofit Coney Island Generation Gap, which Harris founded in 2003.
According to the indictment, she faces a total of 11 counts: two for wire fraud, one for wire fraud conspiracy, one for disaster relief fraud, three for false statements, two for bankruptcy fraud, one for conspiracy to obstruct justice, and one for witness tempering.
"We are just hearing of this".
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's spokesperson told the Daily News that today is the first they have heard of the investigation into Harris.
Harris' predecessor in the Brooklyn district she was representing, Alec Brook-Krasny, was indicted previous year in connection with producing opioids. But a federal appeals court ordered do-overs, applying a Supreme Court ruling that overturned former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's corruption convictions.
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