(Reuters) - A New York City woman who used her Facebook page to dupe donors into contributing to a “funeral fund” for one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was charged with lying to the FBI, court documents showed.
Nouel Alba, 37, of the Bronx, used a Facebook page to pose as the aunt of one of the victims, 6-year-old Noah Pozner, and encouraged potential donors to contribute to a PayPal account in her name she had set up last February, according to court papers.
Alba, who made an initial appearance on Thursday before a U.S. magistrate in Connecticut, also claimed to have visited Sandy Hook school to identify the body of the boy, court records show, even though the school was an active crime scene closed off to parents.
When contacted by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents probing reports of fraudulent fundraising following the December 14 shooting, Alba claimed not to have posted any information related to Newtown on her Facebook account, or to have solicited donations or recently accessed her PayPal account.
Authorities also charge that she claimed falsely to have immediately refunded donations that she received.
She has been charged with a single count of lying to a federal agent, according to court papers. If convicted, Alba faces a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She was released on a $50,000 bond.
Alba’s next court appearance was set for January 16.
Her arrest on Thursday came roughly two weeks after police say 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the Sandy Hook school, killing 20 first graders and six staff members with a semi-automatic weapon.
Before the rampage, police say Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home about 5 miles from the school. Lanza killed himself as police arrived at the school in response to 911 calls.
The massacre ranks as the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history after the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, which left 32 people dead.
The public defender assigned to Alba’s case did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorneys Office in New Haven did not return calls seeking comment.
Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Phil Berlowitz