Pamela Harris surrendered to the FBI on Tuesday after an 11-count federal indictment against her was unsealed, law enforcement officials said. Harris 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 court of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
"As alleged in the indictment, the defendant defrauded government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars in public funds and tried to fraudulently obtain even more", stated U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue.
She claimed her Coney Island residence was so damaged by Hurricane Sandy that she had to move to a temporary residence on Staten Island following the storm.
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Harris, who was elected in 2015, allegedly defrauded City Council, the city's Department of Youth and Community Development, FEMA, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city's Build It Back Program and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of NY.
Harris also filed for false bankruptcy protection in 2013, officials said. Prosecutors say Harris caused two individuals, including Landlord #2, to lie to federal law enforcement agents conducting this investigation.
To get CIGG's operations subsidized by the city, according to the indictment, Harris billed her nonprofit as a mentorship program that connected teens and young adults living in Coney Island to media arts.
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As part of that scheme, authorities said, Harris submitted a forged lease agreement to the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development.
New York City Department of Investigation (DOI) Commissioner Mark G. Peters described to the charges as being a result of "brazen corruption". An obstruction-of-justice count alleges she convinced others to lie. She again deceived the Council by saying the funds would be used for rental space.
"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 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. Harris, who at the time of her filing was getting $1,550 a month from FEMA as a result of the misrepresentations she made, told the Bankruptcy Trustee that she was receiving $1,200 a month in financial aid from the same landlord to whom she told FEMA she was paying $1,550 a month in rent.
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Harris had been expected in Albany on Tuesday, the third day of the 2018 legislative session.