Two Plead Guilty, Sentenced for Collecting More Than $74,000 in Unemployment Benefits While Working
Defendants Earned More Than $94,000 While Fraudulently Collecting Benefits
BOSTON – Two individuals have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in connection with fraudulently collecting a combined total of more than $74,000 in unemployment benefits while they continued to work, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The cases are the result of investigations referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s Department of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA). During the time the defendants were filing for unemployment benefits they collectively earned more than $94,000 from their employment.
“The unlawful collection of unemployment benefits puts a strain on the system and takes funds away from those in need,” AG Healey said. “The detection, investigation, and prosecution of these crimes are important to deter fraud and return these funds back to the Commonwealth.”
“DUA takes these crimes very seriously,” said Robert Cunningham, Director of the Department of Unemployment Assistance. “With the ongoing cooperation of the Attorney General’s Office, DUA aggressively pursues repayment from those who defraud the system.”
A Suffolk County Grand Jury retuned indictments against the defendants in December 2014. The defendants are charged as follows:
Orlando Mancebo, 40, of Roxbury, pleaded guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (87 counts) and Larceny Over $250. After the plea was entered, Judge Carol Ball sentenced Mancebo to five years probation and ordered him to pay more than $30,000 in restitution.
Mancebo applied for and received unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA between July 2009 and March 2011. During that time, Mancebo was working and failed to disclose his employment status to EOLWD\DUA. For each of the 87 weeks that Mancebo fraudulently 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. Mancebo collected fraudulent benefits totaling more than $30,000 while working and collecting. During the time of the fraud, Mancebo earned more than $38,000 from his employment.
Peggy Soto, 41, of Roslindale, pleaded guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (72 counts), Larceny Over $250, Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud and Attempted Larceny Over $250. After the plea was entered, Judge Carol Ball sentenced Soto to five years probation and ordered her to pay more than $44,000 in restitution.
Soto applied for and received unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA from July 2009 to November 2010. During part of that time, Soto worked full time and failed to disclose her employment status to EOLWD\DUA.
For each of the 72 weeks that Soto 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. During the time of the fraud, Soto earned more than $56,000 through her employment.
In October 2009, Soto engaged in a scheme to make a fraudulent insurance claim following a car accident. Soto was involved in a car accident while operating a vehicle under a canceled insurance policy. Following the accident, Soto reinstated her insurance policy and reported the incident to her insurance company, providing fraudulent information to indicate the time at which the accident occurred so that it would coincide with the reinstated policy. Following an investigation by her insurance provider, the claim was denied.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury retuned indictments against the defendants in December 2014. Mancebo and Soto were both individually arraigned on Jan. 6 in Suffolk Superior Court where they each pleaded not guilty and were released on personal recognizance. Soto pleaded guilty on Monday, was sentenced and ordered to pay restitution. Mancebo pleaded guilty on Wednesday, was sentenced and ordered to pay restitution.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides temporary assistance to unemployed workers through the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, which is funded by employer contributions. Private employers are required to pay quarterly contributions into the trust fund based on the number of workers they employ and how often their workers have accessed UI benefits, among other factors.
DUA’s Program Integrity Department focuses on the prevention, detection and the investigation of those who defraud or attempt to defraud the unemployment insurance program. Once fraud is detected, the Program Integrity Department works aggressively with the Attorney General’s office and other agencies to recover money owed to the UI Trust Fund.
AG Healey’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 systems.
To report unemployment fraud call the EOLWD/DUA’s Fraud Hotline @ 1-800-354-9927 or visit: www.mass.gov/lwd/ui-fraud anytime, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous.
The cases were prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Thomas Caldwell and Kristy Lavigne of AG Healey’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Steven Pfister of the Attorney General’s Office, investigators from the IFB, and Mark St. Onge from the DUA.