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Sandy Hook charity fraudster gets eight-month prison sentence

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City woman who tried to cash in on last year's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school by posing as a relative of one of the slain children was sentenced on Tuesday to eight months in prison, authorities said.

Hours after the gunman entered Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and six educators, Nouel Alba, 37, went online identifying herself as the aunt of 6-year-old Noah Pozner and soliciting donations for a funeral fund.

"My heart is entirely destroyed knowing my little man is gone," she wrote on a Facebook page, court records show.

She also claimed to have identified the body of her "nephew," and cradled his "lifeless body" in her arms, before breaking the "bad news" to "my brother and sister in law," the records show.

Alba pleaded guilty in June to federal charges of wire fraud and making false statements, court records show. The woman's public defenders had sought probation for her, describing her in court records as a struggling single mother of two boys.

Connecticut federal judge Michael P. Shea sentenced Alba to eight months in prison, said Thomas Parson, a spokesman for the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's office.

"You exploited one of the most admirable qualities in human beings - kindness," Shea told Alba, calling the scam a "cruel twist to a horrific nightmare," according to the Connecticut Post newspaper.

Alba's funeral fund solicitations "for my brother" continued for days via a Paypal account she set up, and she repeatedly reminded readers that "every bit counts."

She received about $240 in donations, which she has since repaid, according to the Connecticut Post.

The Pozner family were not immediately available for comment. Neither Alba nor her attorneys could immediately be reached for comment.

Before Alba's sentencing, the father of another child killed that day read a victim's impact statement in court.

Mark Mattioli, whose son James, 6, was killed, called Alba's actions "immediate, intrusive, exploitative disgusting," he said in a brief telephone interview Wednesday.

(Reporting By Chris Francescani; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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