Bad Habit

6752086 - filling the unemployment insurance application form isolated in blue

Everyone has a vice, whether it be procrastination, bingeing on Netflix, spending too much time on social media, or something much worse. A Waterbury, Connecticut man, who admitted he had a heroin habit, conspired with his ex-wife to support this bad habit by lying to the state’s unemployment compensation program. Together, they allegedly committed unemployment fraud by illegally collecting nearly $11,000, while the man was serving time in jail on unrelated charges.

The man, who was serving 18 months in a correctional facility for possession of an outlawed gun magazine, conspired with his East Haven, Connecticut ex-wife to make calls to the state’s TeleBenefits line on his behalf. She regularly answered a series of questions about her ex-husband’s employment situation in a manner that concealed that he was in prison. (While it’s true that he is unemployed while serving out his sentence in the slammer, the State of Connecticut – or any state for that matter – would not classify prison as a legitimate reason for receiving unemployment benefits.) The woman allegedly collected a total of $10,553 over two years on her ex-husband’s behalf.

The convict, who has a long rap sheet that includes multiple convictions for burglary, reckless driving, running from police and possession of narcotics, was arrested after an investigation into a complaint lodged by the Connecticut Department of Labor. (The agency, which administers the state’s unemployment compensation program, most likely cross-referenced the man’s personally identifiable information with the Connecticut Department of Corrections and found that he was behind bars, which makes him ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.)

The 35-year-old convict and his 26-year-old ex-wife from Connecticut are both charged with one count each of first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community, conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community and felony unemployment compensation fraud. (While the man admitted to the unemployment fraud, the other charges are accusations and the two are presumed innocent unless found guilty.)

Both are looking at up to 20 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine for the larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny charges, while the unemployment charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Some habits are harder to break than others. The man at the center of this case has a bad habit of breaking the law. (Unfortunately, he persuaded his ex-wife to participate in his illegal scheme.) It remains to be seen how the justice system will deal with these two offenders. (Let’s hope the punishment is enough to help them overcome their fraud habit.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “East Haven woman accused of collecting unemployment benefits for imprisoned ex-spouse,” published by The New Haven Register on March 2, 2018.

An East Haven woman was arrested Friday for allegedly conspiring with her ex-husband to collect nearly $11,000 in unemployment compensation benefits in his name while he was in prison.

Kellie M. Park-Dyer, 26, of 330 Short Beach Road, was charged with one count each of first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community, conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community and felony unemployment compensation fraud, according to a release from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.