Charges in fake Newtown 'funeral fund'

Dec. 27, 2012 at 7:20 PM
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HARTFORD, Conn., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A New York woman has been charged with lying to the FBI about an alleged fraudulent funeral fund for a victim of a Connecticut school massacre.

Nouel Alba, 37, arrested Thursday on a charge of lying to FBI agents who were investigating the alleged scheme to raise funds in the name of Noah Pozner, 6 -- one of 20 students who were killed Dec. 14 when Adam Lanza, 20, went on a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

A criminal complaint alleges Alba -- using her Facebook account, telephone calls and text messages -- claimed she was soliciting donations for a "funeral fund."

Alba had been featured in an investigative report by NBC's Jeff Rossen that appeared on the "Today" show Dec. 21. Pozner's uncle said someone posing online as Noah's aunt solicited donations to her personal PayPal account, Rossen reported.

The report included footage of Rossen interviewing Alba at her home -- although she would not allow her face to be seen on camera. She denied posing on Facebook as Pozner's aunt and asking for donations, saying she "never sent any message on Facebook."

"Then why is your account number on it, your bank routing number, your email, and your PayPal information?" Rossen asked.

"Because I sell things online," Nouel replied.

Alba said someone else must have posted the phony message using her account. She told Rossen she returned donations that had been made through her account.

The criminal complaint alleges Alba's claim to have to refunded donations was false, NBC said.

After a federal court appearance in Hartford Thursday, Alba was released on $50,000 bond.

Making false statements to federal agents carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000, NBC reported.

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