A New York City woman pleaded guilty last week to fraud in a fundraising scheme, claiming to be the aunt of one of the children killed in the Newtown, Conn. Massacre last December. At the time of her arrest she was also charged with lying to FBI agents and potentially faces federal charges that include interstate transportation of stolen property, access device fraud and wire fraud.
Nouel Alba, 37, of the Bronx was arrested by FBI agents after she tried to solicit people into making donations by writing in a Facebook post that she was the aunt of Noah Pozner, one of the Newtown students that were killed in the now well-publicized attack. She used Facebook as her means to beseech anyone to donate money only a few hours after the horrific incident occurred. She reportedly was asking for donations to assist in paying for the child’s funeral. Twenty young children and six adults were gunned down on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
According to U.S. Attorney Jonathan Francis’s office Alba instructed unaware victims to send money to a Pay Pal account that she controlled. The messages were posted under the screen name of Victorian Glam Fairys, a Facebook page that has since been taken down by the Social Media Network.
The day after the shootings, she began imploring for donations. She posted that these donations were “to be used for my brother and other families.”
Another post stated “Reality set in when they asked for photos and if our loved ones had any marks on their body. A part of me regrets having to be the one to identify my nephew’s body; I couldn’t help but to hold my nephew in my arms and then give my brother and sister-in-law the bad news.”
She went as far as emailing the Sandy Hook PTA on Dec. 16, and received replies from two of the officers from that organization which she deceptively used to falsify a link to the school with potential contributors.
Alba also used text messaging to communicate with other prospective donors. She said that President Obama “hugged us and even cried with us.” in one of them. In yet another, she typed: “I’m a mess. Not looking forward to seeking that casket; 11 gun shot in his little body; I can’t bare the pain, the fear he went through. We always promised to protect him and the one time we needed to be there we weren’t there to protect him.”
She was interviewed by CNN after the charges were filed and claimed that she was set up. After the televised interview when she was contacted by FBI Special Agents Jillian Guerrera and Milan Kosanovic she maintained that she never made any posts whatsoever on the Facebook page and had no idea that any funds were being transferred into her Pay Pal account.
According to Court records, all the donations which totaled in excess of $5000.00 have been returned.
Last Thursday she admitted in federal court that she was indeed guilty of the charges brought against her. She pleaded guilty to wire fraud as well as making false statements to FBI agents. A conviction of wire fraud can carry a maximum sentence of twenty years while the false statement sentence could yield a term of up to five years. Nonetheless, an initial calculation of her suggested sentencing guidelines asks for her to obtain a term of incarceration not to exceed six months, according to A.U.S.A. Jonathan Francis.
U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel asked her in federal court: “Is it true that in December 2012 you used Facebook, email and other kinds of electronic communication to falsely claim to be related to a victim; and you elicited donations from people?”
“Yeah,” she replied with apparent indifference.
She’ll be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael Shea on August 29 in Hartford Conn.
Fraud can be a State or Federal Crime. The charge can develop into a Federal crime by lying or making false statements, as well as concealing (information) from federal officers or officials orally by pronouncement or in written statements as well as simple denial. This crime, on a federal crime is described in Section 1001 of Title 18 of the U. S. Code
The penalties for a conviction for a fraud-connected crime can be exceedingly severe and often includes restitution and a possible lengthy period of time in prison. It’s essential that if a person is charged with fraud on any level, to directly contact a practiced attorney, with experience in this field of the law to defend your rights and suitably handle the charges against them.
Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer who has tried a multitude of fraud cases of this type throughout his 35 year career. To read about Mr. Cohen honors and qualifications and find out what steps you should take if an investigation has initiated or an arrest has been made, please click here.
Mr. Cohen is also listed in the 2014 edition of “Best Lawyers in America”
To contact Mr. Cohen in the tri-county area of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties in South Florida, contact him at 954-928-0059 or 561-366-8200.