Former government employee pleads guilty to unemployment insurance fraud | USAO-NDNY
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Tramaine Pope, 33, of Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty today to federal program theft and admitted to abusing her position as a New York State Department of Labor employee (NYSDOL) to get $ 314,168 by submitting and approving 20 bogus unemployment insurance claims. The funds stolen by Pope included benefits from federal programs intended to help unemployed New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon; Jonathan Mellone, Special Agent in Charge, New York Region, US Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General (USDOL-OIG); Joshua McCallister, Acting Inspector in charge of the Boston Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); Matthew Scarpino, Acting Special Agent in charge of the Buffalo Field of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office; and NYSDOL Commissioner Roberta Reardon.
Acting US attorney Antoinette T. Bacon said: “Tramaine Pope has violated the trust of her fellow New Yorkers during a global public health crisis that has left so many people out of work. She was tasked with helping others at a time of great need, but instead exploited her position for personal gain. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate and prosecute those who abuse public trust and steal public funds during this unprecedented pandemic. “
USDOL-OIG Special Agent Jonathan Mellone said, “Tramaine Pope abused her position as Senior Job Security Clerk at the New York State Department of Labor to create and approve fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. Pope obtained more than $ 300,000 from these fraudulent claims, part of which was intended for pandemic unemployment assistance. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of unemployment insurance benefit programs. “
By pleading guilty, Pope admitted to receiving lists of names and personally identifying information from another person. Pope then used her access to NYSDOL systems to submit and approve fraudulent UI claims using the names and other information she received.
Pope agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $ 314,168 to New York State.
Pope faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $ 250,000 and a supervised release sentence of up to 3 years when convicted on January 21, 2022 by the United States District Judge- United, Mae A. D’Agostino. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular law the defendant is accused of violating, US sentencing guidelines, and other factors.
USPIS Acting Inspector Joshua McCallister said: “Ms Pope’s actions to use the trust placed in her by the people of New York and her employer to abuse the system and rob those who had it. most needed during the pandemic are ineligible. . This case is a prime example of the collaborative law enforcement effort to bring to justice those who commit criminal acts against the people of New York. “
HSI Acting Special Agent Matthew Scarpino said: “HSI remains committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those, like Pope, who have used the pandemic. of COVID to defraud not only the taxpayer but also eligible beneficiaries in need. legitimate COVID benefits. “
NYSDOL Commissioner Roberta Reardon said: “There is no excuse to steal from others, especially when someone in place of trust is abusing their position to knowingly commit fraud. May this remind you that if you break the law, you will be held accountable. I thank our partners in the US Attorney’s Office and all levels of law enforcement for their commitment to working with us to fight unemployment insurance fraud.
This matter has been investigated by USDOL-OIG, USPIS, HSI and the NYSDOL Office of Special Investigations. The case is being pursued by Deputy US Prosecutors Joshua R. Rosenthal and John T. Chisholm.
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 tasked with 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 (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at: https: // www. .justice.gov / disaster-fraud / ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.