For Immediate Release - November 17, 2010

Saugus Man Pleads Guilty, Sentenced in Connection with Collecting More Than $13,000 in Unemployment Benefits While Working

BOSTON - A Saugus man pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court in connection with collecting over $13,000 in unemployment benefits while continuing to work, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Gustavo Pina, age 30, pled guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (22 counts), and Larceny Over $250. Following the change of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball sentenced Pina to one year probation and ordered him to pay restitution.

"The purpose of unemployment benefits is to assist those that have who have lost their jobs and are unable to find work, not to supplement a full-time income," said AG Coakley. "Our office is committed to prosecuting these individuals that misuse the system and returning illegally obtained funds to the Commonwealth."

In October 2009, the Attorney General's Office began an investigation after the matter was referred by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA). Pina applied for unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA in June 2007 and began receiving benefits from August 2007 through January 2008. During this time, Pina was working full-time at a mortgage company and failed to disclose his employment status to EOLWD\DUA.

For each week that Pina collected unemployment benefits 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. Pina collected fraudulent benefits totaling $13,200 while working. During the relevant time period, Pina earned $24,000 from his place of employment.

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Pina on March 18, 2010. Pina was arraigned on April 6, 2010 in Suffolk Superior Court at which time h entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Today, Pina plead guilty and was ordered to serve probation and pay restitution.

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.

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 27 matters.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Audrey Cosgrove and was investigated by Scott Gisetto, both of AG Martha Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division, with assistance from investigator Mark St. Onge from EOLWD\DUA.