Defendants allegedly collected benefits while living abroad
FROM ROCKLAND COUNTY DA
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, together with Glenn Sorge, acting special agent-in-charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) and New York State Department of Labor Senior Investigator Robert Pearlroth, last week announced that 25 individuals have been charged in a scheme to rip off the New York State Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance benefits program of over $160,000 during a five-year period between 2010 and 2015.
District Attorney Zugibe said, “The defendants are accused of trying to scam the system by collecting unemployment benefits to which they were not entitled because they were, in fact, living in a foreign country. These benefits are a vital lifeline to those who lose their jobs. My office, in a collaborative effort with our state and federal partners, will continue to aggressively and proactively seek out these offenders.”
According to the criminal charges, the defendants falsified documents by applying for and receiving unemployment benefits when, in fact, they were living in the Dominican Republic and not entitled to receive such benefits. The defendants allegedly applied for the benefits via the Internet or by telephone, while falsely claiming to be living in New York.
District Attorney Zugibe said the 25 defendants charged in the case were arrested in a coordinated sweep which started last night following an investigation by the New York State Department of Labor, which referred the case to his office for further investigation and prosecution.
The defendants are variously charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class “D” Felony and face prison terms of up to seven years, if convicted.
“Today’s arrests send a strong message that schemes to defraud the unemployment insurance program will not be tolerated,” said Glenn Sorge, acting special agent in charge of HSI New York “HSI will work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute individuals engaged in these types of crimes, ensuring these funds go to the people that need them.”
The following three defendants allegedly received the greatest amounts of overpayments:
Santiago Liz (DOB 02/01/68) of 333 Route 202, Pomona, New York. Liz is accused of unlawfully applying for and collecting unemployment benefits while in the Dominican Republic for various periods of time between January 2011 and March 2015. The total amount of his theft was $22,179.50.
Juan Martinez Rodriguez (DOB 04/30/57) of 53 Hudson Avenue, Haverstraw, New York. Martinez Rodriguez is accused of unlawfully applying for and collecting unemployment benefits while in the Dominican Republic for various periods of time between December 2010 and March 2015. The total amount of his theft was $16,785.00.
Nilson Blanco (DOB 10/24/72) of 43 Hudson Avenue, Haverstraw, New York. Blanco is accused of unlawfully applying for and collecting unemployment benefits while in the Dominican Republic for various periods of time between January 2011 and March 2015. The total amount of his theft was $14,830.25.
According to the charges, on March 23, 2015, Ramon Delacruz (DOB 11/7/78) of 41 Rela Avenue, Haverstraw, New York was arrested by members of the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office Special Investigations Unit and charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class “C” Felony.
The arrest was a culmination of a sweeping probe conducted by the RCDA’s Special Investigations Unit, the New York State Department of Labor and the United States Department of Homeland Security. It is alleged that Delacruz, via telephone and the Internet, applied for and received unemployment benefits on behalf of at least ten of the 25 individuals while they were living in the Dominican Republic.
A search warrant executed at Delacruz’ residence recovered multiple debit cards in the names of other individuals who were allegedly unlawfully receiving unemployment benefits, as well as over $10,000 in cash and a notebook computer which was used to perpetrate the alleged fraud.