News from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Rhode Island reveals that the Justice Department takes fraud investigations seriously. A man now faces incarceration for procuring unemployment benefits he allegedly did not deserve. Investigators took notice of the case and moved forward with prosecution.
Unemployment benefits and wire fraud
The fraud case involves a resident of Providence, Rhode Island filing for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act and the PUA program. The individual filed for and received benefits in Rhode Island and later filed for benefits in Arizona. The approved application in Arizona led to $7,170 in benefits payments, even though the applicant did not reside in Arizona.
The person pled guilty to a single charge of wire fraud. A judge sentenced the man to 30 days in jail and three months of home confinement. He now has a permanent criminal record.
Defenses for federal crimes related to wire fraud could involve proving no fraud took place. For example, law enforcement could claim that someone sought benefits in two different states. However, legal representatives could prove the accused only filed in one state and may be a victim of identity theft.
Fraud statutes may involve a variety of alleged crimes. In many instances, prosecutors must prove deliberate fraudulent intent. However, the accused might never have intended to commit fraud, but civil negligence led to mistakes.
Misconduct on the part of investigators might undermine a fraud case. Failing to procure all necessary search warrants could make evidence inadmissible in court.
When facing a near-certain guilty verdict, a defendant might plea bargain. The subsequent sentence could be lower than what a guilty verdict brings.
A Rhode Island resident’s guilty plea draws attention to wire fraud. The case may lead others to review their options if charged with similar crimes.