For Immediate Release - November 22, 2010

Mattapan Woman Pleads Guilty, Sentenced in Connection with Collecting More Than $16,000 in Unemployment Benefits While Working

BOSTON - A Mattapan woman pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to charges she schemed to collect over $16,000 in unemployment benefits while continuing to work, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Gina Valburn, age 45, pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to charges of Unemployment Fraud (27 counts) and Larceny Over $250. Following the change of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball sentenced Valburn to two years probation and ordered her to pay $16,875 in restitution.

"Ms. Valburn violated the law by exploiting the unemployment system for her own benefit," said AG Coakley. "These benefits are intended to help those without work, not supplement a full-time income. Our office will continue to prosecute these crimes and return the illegally obtained funds back to the Commonwealth for their proper use."

Valburn applied for unemployment benefits from Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA) in November 2007 while separated from her employer and began receiving benefits from November 2007 through June 2008. During part of this time, Valburn was working full time as a patient representative at a Massachusetts hospital.

For each of the 27 weeks that Valburn collected unemployment benefits between December 2007 and June 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. Valburn collected fraudulent benefits totaling $16,875 while working and collecting. During the relevant time period, Valburn earned over $26,000 from her place of employment.

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Valburn on June 10, 2010. Valburn was arraigned on June 29, 2010, in Suffolk Superior Court at which time she entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Today, Valburn pled guilty and was ordered to serve probation and pay restitution.

AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division works to protect consumers and the integrity of the insurance system by investigating and prosecuting those who commit fraud against all types of insurers, including the Commonwealth's unemployment insurance and workers' compensation system. The prosecution of insurance fraud helps prevent the increase in premiums and taxes that are the result of fraudulent insurance claims. To date in 2010, the Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division has obtained over $800,000 in restitution orders in 28 matters.

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.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General David Andrews of AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Luke Goldworm of the Attorney General's Office and investigator Mark St. Onge from EOLWD\DUA.