Illinois man sentenced to 55 months in prison | USAO-NDIN
HAMMOND — Martae Patton, 36, of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Philip P. Simon. on his guilty plea to engaging in wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson announced.
Patton was sentenced to 55 months in prison followed by 2 years of probation. He was also ordered to pay compensation in the amount of $936,208.34.
According to documents filed in the case, Patton engaged in a scheme to defraud the federal government and several state governments of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) money through false and fraudulent pretexts. PUA, a federal program overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor, is designed to help people whose jobs have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic by supplementing existing state unemployment benefits.
Patton was part of a scheme to use the personal information of unsuspecting people to apply for unemployment benefits in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The fraudulently obtained benefits were then sent on a debit card to addresses associated with Patton and others in and around the Northern District of Indiana. Patton and others then collected the debit cards and drained the funds through money order purchases, ATM withdrawals and other means.
U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson said, “This lawsuit shows that my office will aggressively pursue individuals who, through fraud, obtain federal funds that Congress has appropriated to help the unemployed through the economic difficulties created by the COVID pandemic. Such theft of federal funds tears apart the safety net that Congress has put in place for American workers and their families.
“It was a crime of greed and opportunity. The pandemic has created a great need for many people who have not only lost their livelihoods, but in many cases their normalcy. This need has unfortunately been exploited by a individual who sought to rob and defraud the government for funds to which he was not entitled, interfering with the legitimate distribution of pandemic relief.Postal inspectors and their law enforcement partners will not tolerate ever this behavior and will work tirelessly to investigate and bring these people to justice for their illegal activities,” said Rodney M. Hopkins, Inspector in Charge of US Postal Service, Detroit Division of the US Postal Inspection Service.
“Martae Patton participated in a scheme that defrauded multiple states and the federal government by filing fraudulent Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims using PII from unsuspecting individuals, resulting in the payment of nearly $1 million. dollars in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits. Patton’s scheme diverted money from American workers who needed relief from the financial effects of unemployment. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the Unemployment Insurance system from those who exploit these benefit programs,” said Irene Lindow, Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Region, Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor.
This matter was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas McGrath.