For Immediate Release - October 07, 2011

Swampscott Woman, East Boston Man Plead Guilty, Sentenced for Collecting More Than $37,000 in Unemployment Benefits While Working

BOSTON – A Swampscott woman and East Boston man pleaded guilty to charges they separately collected more than $37,000 in unemployment benefits while continuing to work, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  The cases are the result of investigations referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA).

“These defendants manipulated the system by continuing to collect funds while gainfully employed,” AG Coakley said.  “Unemployment benefits are not intended to supplement an income, but assist those who are truly in need.”

ALICIA SULLIVAN
Alicia Sullivan, age 32, of Swampscott, pleaded guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (51 counts) and Larceny Over $250 (3 counts).  After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge Carol Ball sentenced Sullivan to five years probation and ordered her to pay $17,008 in restitution.

Sullivan applied for and received unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA on three separate occasions between May 2005 and February 2009.  During the relevant time periods, Sullivan was working full time for four different employers and failed to disclose her employment status to EOLWD\DUA.  For each of these 51 weeks that Sullivan collected unemployment benefits she notified the EOLWD\DUA that she was not working, but that she was able to work and was available for work.  Sullivan collected fraudulent benefits totaling $17,008 while working and collecting. 

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Sullivan on March 31.  Sullivan was arraigned on April 14, in Suffolk Superior Court, at which time she entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance.  Sullivan pleaded guilty on October 4 and was sentenced. 

STEPHEN CUZZI
Stephen Cuzzi, age 46, of East Boston pleaded guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (32 counts) and Larceny Over $250.  After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge Carol Ball sentenced Cuzzi to two years probation and ordered him to pay $20,800 in restitution.

Cuzzi applied for and received unemployment benefits from the EOLWD\DUA between March 2008 and February 2009 while separated from his employer. During  part of that time, Cuzzi was working as a truck driver and failed to disclose his employment status to EOLWD\DUA.  For each of these 32 weeks that Cuzzi 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.  Cuzzi collected fraudulent benefits totaling $20,800 while working and collecting. 

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Cuzzi on June 16, 2011.  Cuzzi was arraigned on June 29 in Suffolk Superior Court at which time he pled not guilty and was released on personal recognizance.  Cuzzi pled guilty on October 4 and was sentenced.

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.  In 2010, the Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division obtained more than $800,000 in restitution orders in 30 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 prosecutors assigned to these cases is Assistant Attorneys General Joshua Pakstis and Jennifer Adreani of AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Rose Bagalawis of the Attorney General’s Office and investigator Mark St. Onge from EOLWD\DUA.

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