Federal grand jury released four indictments charging six people with allegedly carrying out schemes to defraud unemployment agencies in multiple states by fraudulently claiming and receiving tens of thousands of dollars in unemployment insurance benefits regular and expanded pandemic-related, sometimes using the stolen identities of unsuspecting individuals, said Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha.
It is alleged that the defendants filed unemployment insurance claims online, seeking benefits from the Federal Pandemic Assistance Program and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, both designed to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The indictments allege that when applying for benefits, the defendants fraudulently claimed to have been previously employed in each state, but that they were, at the time, unemployed. In some cases, investigations by the FBI and Rhode Island State Police into alleged unemployment fraud schemes have revealed unrelated criminal conduct.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury released the indictments accusing:
François Parker, 35, of Providence, with two counts of wire fraud, one count of theft of government money and two counts of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The indictment alleges that between April 2020 and October 2020, Parker submitted fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Rhode Island, California, Arizona, Louisiana, Colorado, Texas, New York, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada and Massachusetts. When filing claims in Rhode Island, Parker allegedly wrongly claimed that he had been employed in Rhode Island from May 20, 2019 to March 17, 2020, as a babysitter. Six states reportedly paid Parker a total of approximately $ 77,254. Four states have denied Parker’s claims.
During the investigation into Parker’s alleged fraudulent unemployment benefit deposit, law enforcement discovered that Parker, who had previously been convicted of a felony carrying a further jail term one year old, was in possession of two loaded firearms and more than 200 rounds of live ammunition. ammunition.
Derrick Gadson, 35, of North Providence, with two counts of wire fraud and one count each of theft of government property and aggravated identity theft. His indictment alleges that as of June 2020, Gadson fraudulently submitted claims online for unemployment insurance and other federal pandemic benefits in Rhode Island, Arizona and Massachusetts. It is alleged that Gadson received a total of approximately $ 27,875 in benefits to which he was not entitled.
In addition, it has been alleged that as part of his scheme to defraud one or more unemployment insurance programs, Gadson allegedly used another person’s stolen identity without that person’s permission.
Rashaad Smith Muskelly, 30, of Lincoln, with two counts of wire fraud and one count each of theft of government money and possession of a firearm by a banned person. The indictment alleges that as of April 2020, Muskelly fraudulently submitted online claims for UI benefits and other federal UI benefits in the event of a pandemic in Rhode Island, in California, Arizona, New York, Texas, Virginia, Nevada and Massachusetts. In a file filed with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT), Muskelly fraudulently claimed to have been employed as a “travel barber.” He was paid approximately $ 14,658 by RIDLT. An FBI and Rhode Island State Police investigation determined that Muskelly allegedly collected a total of $ 82,991 in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits.
During the investigation of Muskelly’s alleged fraudulent benefit claims, law enforcement discovered that Muskelly, who had previously been convicted of a felony punishable by imprisonment for more than one an, was in possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol.
Jamel Newman, 23, of Pawtucket, Darren Robinson, 21, of Providence, and Rashaad Hill, 21, of Providence are named in an indictment of sixteen counts each for conspiracy, wire fraud, theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft. The indictment alleges that as of at least April 2020, the accused conspired among themselves to defraud Employment Insurance benefit programs, including unemployment assistance programs in the event of a pandemic in California, Arizona, Nevada and Massachusetts. The indictment alleges that some requests submitted by one or more members of the conspiracy used the names and stolen personal information of other people.
During the investigation of Newman’s alleged involvement in the conspiracy, it is alleged in the indictment that he was found in possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol. Newman is prohibited from owning a firearm due to his September 2017 and August 2019 convictions in Rhode Island State Court for domestic violence – common assault and / or assault and battery.
These and other cases of suspected criminal activity related to fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits due to the pandemic are under joint investigation by the FBI and Rhode State Police Island, with assistance from the US Department of Labor. The cases are jointly reviewed, charged and prosecuted by a team comprising Assistant US Prosecutors Denise M. Barton, Stacey P. Veroni, G. Michael Seaman and Deputy Attorney General of Rhode Island John M. Moreira, Chief Public Integrity Officer of the Attorney General of Rhode Island. Unity.
Rhode Islanders who believe their personal identification has been stolen and used to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits are urged to contact Rhode Island State Police at [email protected] or the FBI Providence office at (401) 272-8310.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies responsible for administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF online complaint form at: https: // www. .justice.gov / disaster-fraud / ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.