Feds: 2 Department of Labor Workers Stole Over $1.6 Million in Unemployment Benefits
Two employees of the New York State Department of Labor bilked the state of more than $1.6 million in unemployment insurance benefits and have now no longer employed by New York State, according to federal prosecutors.
One has already pleaded guilty in the scheme while an indictment against the second was recently unsealed following grand jury proceedings, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York says.
The pair, Wendell Giles and Carl DiVeglia are from the both of Albany area.
Prosecutors alleged that from about July 2020 through August 2021, Giles and DiVeglia initiated fraudulent unemployment insurance applications in the names of other people, then abused their NYSDOL computer systems access to release benefit payments on the false claims. Once the benefits were released to others, the two conspirators would get a portion of the fraudulent proceeds, according to the Department of Justice.
On Friday, DiVeglia, 33, waived his indictment and pleaded guilty to mail fraud and identity theft, admitting his role in over $1.6 million in losses to the NYS Department of Labor and to personally receiving about $225,000 in the scheme.
Giles, 33, also appeared in court on Friday, however, he has pleaded not guilty to the charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office said:
A mail fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory term of 2 years in prison, to be imposed consecutive to any other terms of imprisonment...
“As alleged, Wendell Giles breached the public’s trust by taking money from government programs designed to help out-of-work New Yorkers during a global pandemic. The integrity of government benefits programs depends on the honesty of the people who help to administer them. We continue to prioritize COVID fraud prosecutions to maintain public confidence in these programs and to hold accountable those who have abused the system," U.S. Attorney Carla Freedman said in a statement.
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: All persons mentioned above suspected of wrongdoing or charged in any cases are innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.]