For Immediate Release - December 10, 2010

Taunton Man Pleads Guilty, Sentenced in Connection with Collecting More Than $25,000 in Unemployment Benefits While Working

BOSTON - A Taunton man pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to charges he schemed to collect over $25,000 in unemployment benefits while continuing to work, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced.

Terrence Shields, age 55, pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to charges of Unemployment Fraud (45 counts), and Larceny over $250 (2 counts). Following the change of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball ordered Shields to serve one year probation. In August 2010, Shields paid the full amount of restitution to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA).

Shields applied for unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA in July 2006 and began receiving benefits from July 2006 through June 2007. During part of this time, Shields was working at various auto dealerships in the state. In July 2007 Shields initiated a second unemployment claim with EOLWD\DUA and began receiving benefits from July 2007 through February 2008. During that time, Shields was employed at another auto dealership and failed to report his employment status to EOLWD\DUA.

For each of the 45 weeks that Shields collected unemployment benefits between July 2006 through June 2007 and July 2007 through February 2008, 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. Shields collected fraudulent benefits totaling $25,539 while working and collecting. During the relevant time period, Shields earned nearly $70,000 from his places of employment.

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Shields on July 22, 2010. Shields was arraigned on July 29, 2010, in Suffolk Superior Court at which time he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Shields pled guilty yesterday and was ordered to serve probation.

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 29 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 Joshua Pakstis of AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Scott Gisetto of the Attorney General's Office and investigator Mark St. Onge from EOLWD\DUA.