Bronx Woman Gets 8 Months In 12/14 Fraud Case

HARTFORD — Late Tuesday afternoon, a New York City woman who posed as the aunt of a child killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook School last December was sentenced to 8 months in prison according to an Associated Press bulletin.

Nouel Alba, 37, of the Bronx pleaded guilty in June to federal charges of wire fraud and making false statements.

The AP report said Alba’s sentencing followed emotional testimony from Mark Mattioli, father of 6-year-old James Mattioli. He said Alba’s crimes were ‘‘immediate, intrusive, exploitative, disgusting and added to my feeling of victimization.’’

Alba sought probation and her attorney argued she had already been punished by the media. Prosecutors said she deserved at least a year in prison.

Starting on the day of the shootings, authorities said, Alba used Facebook, email, text messages and telephone calls to falsely claim to be the aunt of 6-year-old victim Noah Pozner.

Authorities said she made up details about the aftermath of the shooting to solicit donations for a ‘‘funeral fund’’ on behalf of the child’s family and families of other victims of the shooting.

In a pre-sentence memorandum, her lawyer said Alba deserved five years of probation, in part because the media has treated her as ‘‘something of a stand-in for the actual perpetrator of the Sandy Hook massacre.’’

Deirdre Murray, Alba’s federal defender, wrote that Alba showed no sophistication in her fraud, using an easily identifiable Facebook account as well as PayPal and bank accounts in her own name.

Federal prosecutors countered that Alba lied to FBI agents about her activities. They also say that while she collected less than $5,000 which was eventually returned to donors, her intent was to raise much more.

They also argued the fraud caused additional pain to the Pozner family and others in the Newtown community affected by the shootings, and make legitimate fundraising for victims more difficult.

‘‘Unless those in a position to commit this sort of fraud truly understand that there are serious and certain consequences for their actions, there will be a temptation to target charitable victims after the inevitable next disaster,’’ wrote Jonathan Francis, the assistant US Attorney prosecuting the case.

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