Yesterday, federal prosecutors announced an 11-count indictment against New York state assemblywoman Pamela Harris, who represents several south Brooklyn neighborhoods. She stands accused of four counts of making false statements, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of bankruptcy fraud, and a single count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, witness tampering and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Although Ms. Harris’s alleged misconduct is unrelated to her role as an assemblywoman, the indictment recalls the 2015 conviction of former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on federal corruption charges.
The federal indictment accuses Ms. Harris of several elaborate schemes designed to defraud various government entities. In one scheme, Ms. Harris allegedly falsely claimed that she had been displaced from her Coney Island home by Hurricane Sandy, improperly receiving nearly $25,000 in federal funds. In another, she allegedly used a forged lease to draw down discretionary funds from the New York City Council in her capacity as the executive director of the Brooklyn nonprofit Coney Island Generation Gap. The indictment also accuses Ms. Harris of making false statements to a federal bankruptcy court in connection with a 2013 Chapter 13 filing.
Ms. Harris pleaded not guilty to all charges. For the time being, she is still permitted to return to Albany to carry out her legislative duties.
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