A Port Jefferson Station woman is facing felony charges after police said she used fake documents in a fake fundraising operation, where she would approach people on the street and demand donations for a fake federal childcare program, Suffolk County police said Wednesday.
Ellen Burkheimer, 47, of 661 Old Town Road, will be back in court Friday to face the charges. According to police, a woman called 911 to report that Burkehimer was soliciting donations at a location on Middle Country Road in Centereach. When officers responded to the scene, the victim said Burkheimer claimed to be collecting donations as a representative of the federally funded Head Start Program, which provides educational and health services to low-income children and their families, police said.
Sixth Precinct patrol officers Matthew Siesto and Andrew Derose took Burkheimer into custody and an investigation was launched by detectives, a news release said. According to authorities, that investigation “revealed Burkheimer was using the money she received to purchase heroin and pay rent and other personal expenses.”
On Wednesday night, police said multiple community members had already phoned in tips to investigators claiming that they had fallen victim to Burkheimer’s scheme. Detectives said the ongoing investigation unturned fake IRS documents, which Burkheimer allegedly used to build credibility to her story.
Burkheimer was arraigned Jan. 6 on multiple criminal charges, including second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, second-degree scheme to defraud and criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument. Detectives said Burkheimer is now facing an additional felony charge relating to forgery and noted that additional charges may be brought as the investigation continues.
Burkheimer remained held on $3,000 cash bail and could not be reached for comment.