NEWTOWN, Conn. – A New York woman pleaded guilty to lying about being the relative of a Sandy Hook School shooting victim as part of a fundraising scheme, acting U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly said in a press release Thursday.
Nouel Alba, 37, of the Bronx, posed as the aunt of one of the children killed in the December shooting in Newtown over email, Facebook, text messages and phone calls, according to court records. Alba said she was collecting donations for a “funeral fund” for the victims’ families and claimed a connection to the Sandy Hook School PTA, officials say.
“This defendant’s criminal conduct exploited the victims of this tragedy, their grieving families and caring individuals who sought to help in any way they could,” Daly said in a press release.
Donors sent money to Alba’s personal PayPal account believing they were contributing to the Sandy Hook cause, according to Daly. The money collected was not “substantial,” but “there were losses beyond any pecuniary measure,” according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Kimberly Mertz.
Alba denied mentioning Sandy Hook in her appeals for money, and told FBI agents that she had not accessed her PayPal account at the time of the investigation, according to the press release. She was arrested on Dec. 27 after the FBI determined she had solicited donations, officials say.
Alba pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and making false statements Thursday. She faces a combined maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. She will be sentenced in Hartford on Aug. 29.
“Ms. Alba’s actions caused undue sadness and harm to those already suffering and to those involved with running legitimate and caring charities,” Mertz said in a press release. “While her guilty plea is just, our thoughts today are with the victims of the Newtown tragedy and their families and friends.”
The FBI is still investigating potential fraud cases that may have developed after the Sandy Hook School shooting. Anyone with information on a possible scam can contact the bureau’s Connecticut office at 203-777-6311
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