Cops: PJ Station woman ran fundraising scam

Ellen Burkheimer, 47, of Port Jefferson Station, was

Ellen Burkheimer, 47, of Port Jefferson Station, was arrested after Suffolk County police Sixth Squad officers, responding to a complaint, found her soliciting donations from businesses in Centereach, police said. (Jan. 6, 2013) (Credit: SCPD)

A Port Jefferson Station woman was in custody on multiple charges Wednesday after police said she admitted collecting donations for a federal program using fake documents -- then spent the money on heroin, rent and personal items.

Ellen Burkheimer, 47, of 661 Old Town Rd., was arrested Saturday after Suffolk County police Sixth Precinct officers, responding to a complaint, found her soliciting donations from businesses in Centereach.

Burkheimer was charged with second-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument. She was arraigned in First District Court in Central Islip Sunday -- and was remanded to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead, police said. She was being held on $6,000 bond, or $3,000 cash bail, and is scheduled to return to court Friday.

Police said officers Matthew Siesto and Andrew Derose arrested Burkheimer after a 911 call reported she was "attempting to collect donations" by claiming she was a representative of the federally funded Head Start program. The program provides educational and health services to low-income children and their families.

Police said Burkheimer had photocopied documents in an assumed name, which she claimed identified her as an authorized fundraiser for the program. Police said she admitted having obtained donations on prior dates and using those funds for heroin, rent and personal expenses. Police did not say how much money Burkheimer had obtained previously.

Sixth Squad Det. Sgt. Michael Fitzharris said investigators believe there may be additional victims of the scam in the Centereach and Lake Grove areas, police said.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding the scheme to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

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