TWO CHARGED FOR ALLEGEDLY COLLECTING MORE THAN $56,000 IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
BOSTON – Two individuals have been charged in connection with collecting a combined total of more than $56,000 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 Department of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA). Authorities allege that during the time the defendants were collecting unemployment benefits they collectively earned more than $97,000 from their employment.
“Unemployment fraud puts a strain on the system and the detection, investigation, and prosecution of these crimes are important to deter fraud and return these funds back to the Commonwealth,” AG Coakley said.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against the two defendants on Thursday. They will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on a later date. The defendants are charged as follows:
LAWRENCE BURNS, JR.
Lawrence Burns, Jr., 57, of Beverly, is charged with Unemployment Fraud (58 counts) and Larceny Over $250. According to authorities, Burns applied for and received unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA between December 2009 and January 2011. During that time, Burns was allegedly working and failed to disclose his employment status to EOLWD\DUA. For each of the 58 weeks that Burns fraudulently collected unemployment benefits he allegedly notified the EOLWD\DUA that he was not working, but that he was able to work and was available for work. Authorities allege Burns collected fraudulent benefits totaling more than $26,000 while working and collecting. During the time of the alleged fraud, Burns earned more than $44,000 from his employment.
Holly Proctor, 43, of Halifax, is charged with Unemployment Fraud (42 counts) and Larceny Over $250 (2 counts). According to authorities, Proctor applied for and received unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA from May 2009 to September 2010. During part of that time, Proctor allegedly worked full time and failed to disclose her employment status to EOLWD\DUA. For each of the 42 weeks that Proctor collected unemployment benefits she allegedly notified the EOLWD\DUA that she was not working, but that she was able to work and was available for work. Authorities allege Proctor collected fraudulent benefits totaling more than $29,000 while working and collecting. During the time of the alleged fraud, Proctor earned nearly $53,000 through her employment.
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.
In 2013, AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division (IUFD) recovered more than $1.4 million in restitution for the state. The IUFD 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 are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Jennifer Scully and David Clayton of AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Philip Mantyla and Steven Pfister of the Attorney General’s Office and investigators from EOLWD\DUA.