New York, NY – New York State Assemblywoman Pamela Harris was indicted Tuesday and charged with corruption for allegedly stealing city and federal funds and using the money to go on cruise, buy airline tickets, and pay off her Victoria’s Secret credit card.
Harris, 57, whose district includes Bay Ridge, Coney Island, and Dyker Heights, was also accused of taking money from a children’s non-profit, and putting it into her checking account, WCBS-TV reported.
“While she was in the assembly, she stole from New Yorkers and stole city funds that were intended to go for children who needed them,” Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters said.
Peters said Harris exploited the public she was elected to serve.
“She conducted her schemes victimizing the federal and New York City governments, and then obstructed a federal investigation into her crimes while a sitting New York State Assemblywoman. When she learned that law enforcement was investigating her various fraud schemes, she pressured witnesses to lie to the FBI and cover them up,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue told WCBS.
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 count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The indictment includes accusations that Harris defrauded the New York City Council, the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, New York’s Build It Back Program, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York from 2012 to 2016.
Harris was accused of taking more than $70,000 from the City Council and using it to pay for personal luxuries, including travel, and to pay off retail credit card balances. She was also accused of stealing $23,000 of city funds from a children’s non-profit organization.
The indictment also said that Harris stole $25,000 in FEMA money for Hurricane Sandy recovery and Build It Back when she claimed she needed the money to relocate her own home due to storm damage.
When Harris became aware of the FBI investigation, she went to friends and asked them to lie to FBI agents, according to the indictment.
Harris joined the state assembly in a special election in 2015 and was reelected in 2016.
Her predecessor, Alec Brook-Krasny, who resigned in 2015, was indicted in 2017 for Medicaid fraud, according to WCBS.
Harris was arraigned on Tuesday and released on $150,000 bond, according to the New York Daily News. She could get up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Under state law, Harris gets to keep her seat in the state assembly, and the $80,000 annual salary that goes with it, until her case has been resolved.