The southern Brooklyn pol who was indicted in January on a laundry list of fraud and corruption charges has resigned.
According to reports, Assemblymember Pamela Harris – who, since replacing former Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny in a 2015 special election, has represented a swath of southwest Brooklyn from Bay Ridge to Coney Island – threw in the towel on Monday, April 2 via a letter to Assemblymember Carl Heastie, the Bronx Democrat who serves as Assembly speaker.
In it, The New York Times reports, Harris tells Heastie, “…recent events interfere with my ability to continue to effectively represent my constituents.”
Harris, who allegedly defrauded various government entities of tens of thousands of dollars, has been 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 in relation to a variety of alleged schemes that arose in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Harris’s indictment, according to Richard Donoghue, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is related to actions that began in 2012, before she held elective office.
Among the agencies that Harris allegedly defrauded are the New York City Council, the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the New York City Build it Back Program, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Her resignation, however, comes too late for the already scheduled April 24 statewide special elections, meaning that, if the governor doesn’t call for another, Harris’ seat could remain vacant until November – something a group of Republican protesters feared as they called for Harris to step down at a rally outside of her Bay Ridge office early last month.
“I think that any politician who is corrupt, and indicted of such charges with such strong evidence, should have the decency to resign,” Brooklyn Teen Republican Club President Batya Goldberg told this paper after the March 11 gathering.
“I am sorry that it took so long for Pam Harris to resign because if she had done it sooner the 46th Assembly District could have been included in the special elections around the state scheduled for April 24,” said Brooklyn Reform Party Chair Bob Capano Tuesday. “Instead, our district will have no representation in the state Assembly. Unfortunately, Albany remains the corruption capitol of the country. One of the key goals of the Reform Party is to restore honesty and integrity to government and we look forward to a reformer stepping up to fill this seat.”
Harris ran on the Democratic line, as did Brook-Krasny. The latter was indicted after stepping down to pursue a job in the private sector in connection with a sting operation targeting three Brooklyn medical clinics that investigators allege were “pill mills” which illegally prescribed opioid painkillers while also fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars’ worth of unnecessary medical tests, physical therapy and psychiatric services.
If convicted, Harris faces up to 30 years imprisonment on the charge of making false statements to FEMA. The wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, witness tampering and obstruction of justice conspiracy charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. The bankruptcy fraud and other false statements charges each carry up to five years in prison.
Harris reportedly served through the Assembly’s state budget process. Her trial is expected to begin in July.
When called, neither of Harris’ two district offices answered the phone.