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DA Rice & NYS Dept. of Labor Conduct Unemployment Insurance Fraud Sweep

LongIsland.com

Joint investigation leads to charges against 17 for more than quarter-million dollars in theft.

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Nassau County, NY - December 26, 2013 -  Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that a recent joint investigation with the New York State Department of Labor has led to criminal charges against 17 Long Islanders accused of stealing approximately $270,000 in unemployment insurance benefits from New York taxpayers.

The defendants were all found to have failed to report employment as required by Department of Labor regulations, thereby fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits.  They were arrested over the past month and are all charged with a top count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, which includes a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

The defendants were investigated by the Department of Labor’s Office of Special Investigations, which then referred the cases to DA Rice’s office for evaluation and, where appropriate, arrest and prosecution.

“Unemployment insurance is meant to help honest workers get through hard times while they look for jobs, but these defendants are charged with abusing that trust and assistance by cheating the system,” DA Rice said.  “Thankfully the Department of Labor caught the scams and we’ll work together to prosecute these cases and return fairness to New York taxpayers.”

The following defendants have all been charged with a top count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree:

  • Maryann Brachfeld, 47, Massapequa Park.  Between October 20, 2010 and January 1, 2012, collected approximately $15,998 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Drew Himmel, 55, West Hempstead.  Between February 21, 2010 and October 2, 2011, defendant collected approximately $10,448 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Lechelle Holston, 47, Roosevelt.  Between October 4, 2009 and November 20, 2011, defendant collected approximately $7,184 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Janiva Jones, 28, Baldwin.  Between June 28, 2009 and May 23, 2010 defendant collected approximately $9,936 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Carmerose Julien, 36, Hempstead.  Between March 12, 2012 and September 2, 2012 defendant collected approximately $7,493 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Robert Kennedy, 52, Massapequa.  Between July 19, 2009 and March 7, 2010 defendant collected approximately $14,620 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Alfred Lombardi, 37, Garden City.  Between October 18, 2009 and July 25, 2010, defendant collected approximately $14,281 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Terry McCrimmon, 48, Westbury.  Between April 5, 2009 and March 29, 2010, defendant collected approximately $15,455 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Matthew O’Leary, 48, Patchogue.  Between March 5, 2007 and August 12, 2012, defendant collected approximately $52,208 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Alejandrino Ortiz, 45, Westbury.  Between September 20, 2009 and November 14, 2010, defendant collected approximately $19,591 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Tiffany Pettway, 29, Westbury.  Between June 9, 2009 and May 16, 2010, defendant collected approximately $7,746 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Sonia Ramirez, 57, Elmont.  Between January 10, 2010 and January 29, 2012, defendant collected approximately $28,928 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Christopher Ray, 44, Freeport.  Between August 9, 2009 and September 4, 2011, defendant collected approximately $26,018 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Neal Rivera, 49, Valley Stream.  Between February 7, 2010 and December 12, 2010, defendant collected approximately $10,603 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Steven Soto, 49, Ft. Lauderdale, FL  (formerly of Valley Stream).  Between June 7, 2009 and March 28, 2010, defendant collected approximately $18,490 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Kevin Thomas, 50, Hempstead.  Between January 18, 2009 and April 22, 2012 defendant collected approximately $10,911 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.
  • Steven Trakis, 31, Long Beach.  Between November 19, 2008 and August 1, 2010, defendant collected approximately $17,937 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly employed.

Assistant District Attorney William Jorgenson is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau Chief Marshall Trager of DA Rice’s office.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.