Where her Coney Island neighbors saw devastation, crooked state Assemblywoman Pamela Harris envisioned opportunity - and cashed in.
Her lawyer, Joel Cohen, declined to comment prior to her arraignment, which was expected to occur within hours.
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.
Harris is accused of defrauding 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 U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York. She's facing charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements, bankruptcy fraud, witness tampering and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Court documents claim Harris lied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2012 about the level of damage Hurricane Sandy caused her Coney Island home.
If convicted of the charges, Harris could face more than 50 years in prison.
As a sitting assemblywoman between July 2015 and January 2017, Harris allegedly committed the same rent scheme, using $11,400 of discretionary funding for personal use. Prosecutors say Harris caused two individuals, including Landlord #2, to lie to federal law enforcement agents conducting this investigation.
"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.
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 again deceived the Council by saying the funds would be used for rental space.
Harris is accused of using some of the fraudulent funds to buy $10,000 worth of airline and cruise tickets for herself and her husband, make online payments to Victoria's Secret and Kohl's.
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.
Unrelated to Tuesday's indictment, Brook-Krasny, the former assemblyman whom Harris succeeded in office, faces criminal charges as well.
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.
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