prisoners sentenced to federal prison for unemployment insurance fraud | USAO-NDNY
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Reginald Thornton, 29, and Lord Paulin, 41, were sentenced to federal prison terms today for defrauding pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs while serving state prison sentences at the Bare Hill Correctional Facility in Malone, New York. Additionally, Rhasha Wright, 30, of Roosevelt, New York, pleaded guilty today to conspiring with Thornton and Paulin in the fraudulent scheme.
The announcement was made by US attorney Carla B. Freedman; Jonathan Mellone, Special Agent in Charge, New York Region, US Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General (USDOL-OIG); Matthew Scarpino, acting special agent in charge of the local Buffalo Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office; Ketty Larco-Ward, inspector in charge of the Boston branch of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); Anthony J. Annucci, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYSDOCCS); and Roberta Reardon, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL).
Thornton and Paulin previously pleaded guilty to federal charges for their respective roles in the fraudulent scheme. U.S. Chief District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby sentenced Thornton to 51 months in federal prison and imposed a 2-year supervised release sentence to track the length of incarceration. Chief Justice Suddaby sentenced Paulin to 19 months in prison and imposed a 2-year probation sentence. Thornton and Paulin will begin their federal prison sentences after their respective New York state incarcerations end.
In his plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, Wright admitted to submitting false unemployment insurance claims to NYSDOL on behalf of Paulin and on behalf of another prisoner from Bare Hill. Inmates were not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
Wright agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $11,696 to New York State.
Wright’s mail fraud conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a supervised release sentence of up to 3 years. The conviction for aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment, to be pronounced consecutively to any other prison sentence. Wright is scheduled to be sentenced on November 3, 2022 by Chief Justice Suddaby. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular law the defendant is accused of breaking, US sentencing guidelines, and other factors.
The matter was investigated by USDOL-OIG, HSI, USPIS, and the NYSDOCCS and NYSDOL Offices of Special Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys John T. Chisholm and Joshua R. Rosenthal.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged 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 NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.