For Immediate Release - November 05, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Announces Guilty Plea and Sentence of a Rhode Island Man for Collecting Over $15,000 in Unemployment Benefits While Working

BOSTON - Today, a Rhode Island man pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court on charges he schemed to collect over $15,000 in unemployment benefits while continuing to work. Robert S. Johnson, age 41, of North Smithfield, RI, pled guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (27 counts), and Larceny Over $250. Following the change of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Hiller B. Zobel sentenced Johnson to three years probation and ordered him to pay $15,586.24 in restitution.

Johnson applied for unemployment benefits from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA) in April 2006 while separated from his Massachusetts employer and began receiving benefits from May 2006 through December 2006. During part of this time, Johnson was working full-time at a Rhode Island hospital and failed to disclose his employment status to EOLWD\DUA.

For each of the 27 weeks that Johnson collected unemployment benefits from June 2006 through December 2006, he notified the EOLWD\DUA that he was not working, but that he was able to work and was available for work. The fraudulent activities were initially detected by investigators from the EOLWD\DUA. Johnson collected fraudulent benefits totaling $15,586.24 while working and collecting. During the relevant time period, Johnson earned over $23,000 at his place of employment.

Indictments were returned against Johnson on May 28, 2009. Johnson was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on June 22, 2009, at which time he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Today, Johnson 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 Michael J. Walsh of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division prosecuted this case with assistance from investigator Scott Gisetto of the Attorney General's Office and Mark St. Onge of EOLWD\DUA.