Brooklyn assemblywoman indicted on fraud and other charges

NY Lawmaker Accused of Stealing Aid Designed to Help Superstorm Sandy Victims

Authorities on Tuesday said a Brooklyn assemblywoman cheated the federal government out of Superstorm Sandy money and New York City out of funds intended for charities, spending some of the proceeds of the crimes on her mortgage, vacations and merchandise from Victoria's Secret. She falsely claimed that she and her husband had to rent a Staten Island residence because they could no longer stay in their storm-damaged, three-story Coney Island home.

She faces 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.

Harris' predecessor in the Brooklyn district she was representing, Alec Brook-Krasny, was indicted previous year in connection with producing opioids. She provided fake lease agreements and receipts, and forged the landlord's signature, said prosecutors.

Harris also claimed the Staten Island landlord "was giving her $1,200 in monthly rental assistance while under oath during a bankruptcy hearing in 2013", according to the indictment cited by NBC New York.

"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".

A woman who answered the phone at Harris' Brooklyn office Tuesday said neither the assemblywoman nor her communications staff would issue a comment. An obstruction-of-justice count alleges she convinced others to lie.

A NY official was charged on Tuesday, Jan. 9, for allegedly defrauding government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars-including diverting money that would have gone to Hurricane Sandy relief.

Harris was elected to the city council in 2015.

Instead, she's accused of diverting the cash into her checking account to pay for personal expenses. There is a maximum sentence of five years for the bankruptcy fraud charges. "When she learned that law enforcement was investigating her various fraud schemes, she pressured witnesses to lie to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and cover them up".

To make matters worse, once Harris was under investigation, prosecutors alleged that she instructed witnesses to lie to FBI agents during the grand jury investigation, which they did.

"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. Harris again made misrepresentations about rented studio space and again diverted the funds to her personal use, according to the indictment.

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