For Immediate Release - December 07, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Announces Guilty Plea and Sentence of a Georgia Woman for Collecting More Than $13,000 in Unemployment Benefits While Working

BOSTON - Today, a Georgia woman pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court on charges she schemed to collect over $13,000 in unemployment benefits while continuing to work. Theresa Houston, age 44, of Atlanta, GA, formerly of North Cambridge, MA, pled guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (33 counts) and Larceny Over $250. Following the change of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball sentenced Houston to two years probation and ordered her to pay $13,200 in restitution.

Houston applied for unemployment benefits from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA) in December 2005 while separated from her Massachusetts employer and began receiving benefits from January 2006 through December 2006. On separate occasions during part of this time, Houston was working full-time for an Atlanta based hospital and part-time at an addiction recovery facility and failed to disclose her employment status to EOLWD\DUA.

For each of the 33 weeks that Houston collected unemployment benefits between the months of May 2006 through December 2006, she notified the EOLWD\DUA that she was not working, but that she was able to work and was available for work. The fraudulent activities were initially detected by investigators from the EOLWD\DUA. Houston collected fraudulent benefits totaling $13,200 while working and collecting.

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Houston on July 23, 2009. Houston was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on September 9, 2009, at which time she entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Today, Houston entered a change of plea to guilty and was sentenced in Suffolk Superior Court.

To report unemployment fraud to the EOLWD\DUA, call the agency's toll free fraud hotline at 1-800-354-9927 anytime, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Adams of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division prosecuted this case with assistance from investigator Mark St. Onge from EOLWD\DUA.