A New York Democratic assemblywoman was indicted Tuesday for allegedly defrauding government agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars, including the agency in charge of Hurricane Sandy relief.
The Department of Justice announced that Pamela Harris, a New York state assemblywoman, was charged with wire fraud, making false statements, bankruptcy fraud, witness tampering and obstructing justice.
The indictment also claims that when Harris learned that law enforcement was investigating her in 2017, she pushed witnesses to lie for her to FBI agents conducting the investigation.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said.
Harris, 57, is accused of defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) -- the agency tasked with helping New York and New Jersey rebuild after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 -- of almost $25,000.
According to the indictment, she falsely claimed that her house had been so badly damaged she was forced to relocate. To back this up, she submitted fake lease agreements and rent payments for a separate residence in Staten Island.
According to the New York Daily News, Harris used the money for vacations, cruise tickets and her lingerie bill at Victoria’s Secret.
She also is accused of defrauding agencies including the New York City Council, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a New York City youth and community development group.
“In fact, at a time when many residents in her district were dealing with the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Harris was busy brewing a storm of her own, one that resulted in her receiving significant payouts by the very federal agency charged with helping those truly in need,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement.
If convicted, Harris faces up to 30 years in prison on the count of false statements to FEMA alone; other wire fraud charges carry up to 20 years imprisonment each.
Harris’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
“These types of crimes threaten the financial stability of our local and federal governments, but when a public official is involved, even more is at risk,” Sweeney said. “Today we are proud to put an end to this inexcusable scheme.”