Newtown Charity Scam Gets Woman Eight Months in Prison
(CNN) — A New York woman who falsely claimed to be a grieving family member of a Sandy Hook shooting victim and set up a fake charity to defraud donors has been sentenced to eight months in prison, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Nouel Alba, 37, will also serve two years of supervised release but will not have to pay a fine, said Thomas Carson of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Alba plead guilty in June to wire fraud and lying to FBI agents, federal prosecutors in Connecticut said.
Alba, prosecutors said, set up false bank accounts and claimed she was collecting for a “funeral fund” set up on behalf of Noah Pozner, one of the 20 children killed in the December attacks. The woman allegedly claimed to be an aunt of the Sandy Hook Elementary School student.
Donations were solicited on a Facebook page that Alba had created and to which she had posted photos of Noah. Donors sent $240 to a PayPal account between December 14 and 20, federal prosecutors in New York said earlier this year.
Alba’s public defender, Deirdre Murray, did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
CNN was alerted to the story by a relative of the Pozner family.
A CNN producer and camera crew went to Alba’s home in the Bronx, New York. She said that the bank account referenced on her Facebook page did in fact belong to her.
Alba denied being involved in a scam during an appearance on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” in December.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said FBI agents contacted Alba after seeing the CNN report and that she told the agents the same thing she told CNN.
Alba falsely told agents that she did not post information related to Newtown on her Facebook account or have contact with anyone about such postings or access her PayPal account, prosecutors said in a statement.
“The thought that someone would scheme so quickly and deliberately to benefit from an unspeakable tragedy is beyond belief,” Kimberly Mertz, FBI special agent in charge, said in a statement. “While there wasn’t a substantial loss of money in this investigation, there were losses beyond any pecuniary measure.”
The indictment against Alba in December cited CNN’s reporting.
Noah, 6, and 19 other children and six adults were shot to death at the Newtown school on December 14. The gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, killed himself after the rampage.
By Laura Ly
CNN’s David Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.