(Source: Attorney General Martha Coakley) – BOSTON – A New Hampshire man and Randolph woman have pleaded guilty to charges they fraudulently collected a combined total of more than $61,000 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).
“These defendants collected unemployment benefits while continuing to work in violation of the law,” AG Coakley said. “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.”
Charges were brought against the defendants on June 7. They were individually charged as follows:
Robert Reynolds, 42, of Hudson, NH, pleaded guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (89 counts) and Larceny Over $250 (3 counts). After the plea was entered, Judge Carol Ball sentenced Reynolds to five years of probation and ordered him to pay close to $43,000 in restitution.
Reynolds applied for and received unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA between January 2008 and May 2010. During part of that time, Reynolds worked full time and failed to disclose his employment status and earnings from disability benefits. For each of the 89 weeks that Reynolds 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. Reynolds collected fraudulent benefits totaling close to $43,000 while working and collecting at the same time. During the time of the fraud, Reynolds earned more than $92,000 from his employment.
Zelda Williams, 52, pleaded guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (49 counts) and Larceny Over $250. After the plea was entered, Judge Ball sentenced Williams to three years of probation and ordered her to pay more than $18,000 in restitution.
Williams applied for and received unemployment benefits from EOLWD\DUA from November 2008 and October 2009. During that time, Williams worked full time and failed to disclose her employment status. For each of the 49 weeks that Williams 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. Williams collected fraudulent benefits totaling more than $18,000 while working and collecting. During the time of the fraud, Williams earned more than $35,000 from her employment.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Reynolds and Williams on June 7. Williams was arraigned on July 10 in Suffolk Superior Court where she pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Reynolds was arraigned on August 13 in Suffolk Superior Court where he pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. The defendants pleaded guilty Thursday, were sentenced and ordered to pay restitution.
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 2011, the Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division obtained $5,578,934 in restitution orders in 33 matters.
To report unemployment fraud to the EOLWD\DUA, call the agency’s toll free fraud hotline at 800-354-9927 anytime, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Jennifer Adreani and Jennifer Cotter of AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Tracy Wetterlow of the Attorney General’s Office and investigator Mark St. Onge from EOLWD\DUA.