This page, Four Indicted in Unemployment Fraud Scheme Run by Inmate in Worcester County Jail , is offered by
Press Release

Press Release Four Indicted in Unemployment Fraud Scheme Run by Inmate in Worcester County Jail

Defendants Allegedly Stole More Than $77,000 from the State’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program
For immediate release:
4/02/2021
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for Four Indicted in Unemployment Fraud Scheme Run by Inmate in Worcester County Jail

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTON Four Springfield individuals have been charged in connection with a scheme to use the personal identifying information of jail inmates and other individuals to steal more than $77,000 from the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The scheme was run by an inmate who was then incarcerated in Worcester County Jail.

The following individuals were indicted by a Suffolk County Grand Jury March 26 on the following charges:

Darnell Harris, 38, of Springfield

Unemployment Fraud (13 counts)

Larceny over $1,200 (10 counts)

Attempted Larceny (3 counts)

Money Laundering (1 count)

Conspiracy (1 count)

He is currently incarcerated in Plymouth County House of Correction on an unrelated matter.

 

Marie Tavernier, 56, of Springfield

Unemployment Fraud (13 counts)

Larceny over $1,200 (10 counts)

Attempted Larceny (3 counts)

Money Laundering (1 count)

Conspiracy (1 count)

 

Ebony Harris, 36, of Springfield

Unemployment Fraud (13 counts)

Larceny over $1,200 (10 counts)

Attempted Larceny (3 counts)

Money Laundering (1 count)

Conspiracy (1 count) 

 

Gregory Harris, 39, of Springfield

Unemployment Fraud (13 counts)

Larceny over $1,200 (10 counts)

Attempted Larceny (3 counts)

Money Laundering (1 count)

Conspiracy (1 count)

The defendants will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on June 7. 

The AG’s Office began an investigation into the scheme, which originated in Worcester County Jail, after it was discovered by investigators assigned to the Special Services Unit of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities allege that in May 2020, Harris began passing personal identifying information of fellow inmates and other individuals to Tavernier and Ebony and Gregory Harris, for the purpose of stealing public money intended for beneficiaries eligible for the PUA program. According to the AG’s Office, the four co-conspirators filed 13 false claims for unemployment benefits, defrauding the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and collecting $77,457 in benefits to which they were not entitled. The AG’s Office also alleges that the defendants used stolen funds to help post a $100,000 bail to secure Harris’ release from pretrial detention in the Worcester County Jail.

These charges are allegations and all defendants are innocent until proven guilty.

DUA’s Program Integrity Department provided valuable assistance to the investigation by providing key data used to identify the alleged perpetrators of this fraud. The Program Integrity Department focuses on the prevention, detection, and the investigation of those who defraud or attempt to defraud the unemployment insurance program.

To report unemployment fraud, call the EOLWD/DUA’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-354-9927 or visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/report-unemployment-benefits-fraud, 24 hours a day. Callers remain anonymous.

AG Healey’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Unit 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 state’s unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems.

 These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Emil A. Ata and Jared B. Cohen both of AG Healey’s Criminal Bureau, with assistance from Criminal Investigators Lashauna Craig and Michael Azevedo of AG Healey’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Unit, James R. McCoy Jr., Senior Digital Evidence Analyst of the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab, Victim Witness Advocate Lia Panetta of AG Healey’s Victim Services Division, the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, and investigators at EOLWD/DUA.

###

Media Contact for Four Indicted in Unemployment Fraud Scheme Run by Inmate in Worcester County Jail

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Feedback