BRIDGEPORT — A Bronx, N.Y., woman on January 17 pleaded not guilty in US District Court to a criminal charge of lying to FBI agents in connection with their investigation into a fraudulent fundraising scheme related to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy in Newtown.
Nouel Alba, 37, pleaded not guilty to one count of making false statements to federal agents, an offense that carries a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of up to $250,000. Alba is represented by a public defender.
Alba reportedly had used the Internet to falsely portray herself as the aunt of Noah Pozner, 6, who was one of the 20 first grade students who was killed on 12/14.
On January 15, a federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport returned an indictment against Alba, charging her with making the false statements, according to David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
The indictment alleges that Alba used her Facebook account, telephone calls, and text messages to falsely claim to be an aunt of a shooting victim and supply fictitious details about the aftermath of the tragedy in order to solicit donations on the pretext that she was collecting on behalf of the family for the child’s “funeral fund.”
At Alba’s instruction, the donor-victims sent money to a PayPal account controlled and accessed by Alba, according to the court papers.
The indictment alleges that, when contacted by FBI Special Agents investigating fundraising and charity scams related to 12/14, Alba falsely stated that she did not post information related to Newtown on her Facebook account, have contact with anyone about such postings, or recently access her PayPal account.
Alba was arrested on a criminal complaint on December 27, and she has been free on $50,000 bail since her arrest.
“Investigators continue to monitor the Internet to uncover other fundraising scams arising from this tragedy, and any individuals who attempt to profit through these schemes will be prosecuted,” Mr Fein said in a statement.
Mr Fein said that potential federal charges associated with fraudulent fundraising and charity schemes include: wire fraud, which has a 20-year maximum prison term; access-device fraud, which has a ten-year maximum prison term; and interstate transportation of stolen property, which has a ten-year maximum prison term.
Mr Fein asked that anyone with knowledge of Newtown-related fraudulent fundraising schemes to contact the FBI at 203-777-6311.