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Nine Postal Workers Indicted for Stealing 50K by Fraudulently Collecting Unemployment

By kcora on
Trenton

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that nine current and former U.S. Postal Service employees have been indicted on charges that they stole a total of nearly $50,000 by fraudulently collecting unemployment insurance benefits while working for the Postal Service.

The Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau obtained nine separate state grand jury indictments over the past month charging each of the nine defendants with third-degree theft by deception.

The final three defendants were indicted yesterday. The defendants collected amounts ranging from $2,000 to nearly $9,000.

The theft charge carries a potential sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000 upon conviction.

The cases were referred to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office by the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. Those agencies audited New Jersey Department of Labor unemployment insurance claim records against payroll records for the U.S. Postal Service to identify postal workers who fraudulently collected benefits in New Jersey.

It is alleged that the nine defendants purposely misrepresented their employment status, or their hours worked and income earned, to the New Jersey Department of Labor in order to receive unemployment insurance benefits. The nine defendants allegedly received a total of approximately $49,564 in benefits to which they were not entitled during the period from 2010 through 2015.

“Unemployment insurance provides a financial safety net for New Jersey workers when they fall on hard times, and we won’t tolerate selfish criminals who lie about their employment status and steal from this critical fund,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “By aggressively prosecuting these defendants, we send a strong deterrent message to make others think twice about filing false claims.”

“These defendants stole thousands of dollars in benefits by falsely certifying, week after week, that they were either unemployed or not earning anything close to what they actually made working for the U.S. Postal Service,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “It’s not like they lied just once; they allegedly repeated their fraud over and over again to keep the stolen benefits flowing.”

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained indictments charging each of the following defendants with third-degree theft by deception. It is alleged that each defendant fraudulently misrepresented his or her income and/or days worked when they reported such information to the New Jersey Department of Labor via the Internet each week or by phone every other week, as required in order to receive benefits:

Ivory Downey, 41, of East Orange, N.J., was indicted yesterday, Nov. 16. It is alleged that Downey filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims between Nov. 27, 2010 and June 3, 2011, to receive unemployment benefits in the amount of $8,721 to which she was not entitled while employed at the U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Kearny. Downey allegedly under-reported her income or days worked on a weekly basis for 27 consecutive weeks.

Mikikia C. Johnson, 40, of Jersey City, N.J., was indicted on Oct. 16. It is alleged that Johnson filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims between June 23 and Aug. 10, 2012, to receive unemployment benefits in the amount of $8,626 to which she was not entitled while employed as a casual employee at the U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Jersey City.

Gloria Long, 64, of Jersey City, N.J., was indicted on Nov. 4. It is alleged that Long filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims between Dec. 11, 2010 and May 18, 2012, to receive unemployment benefits in the total amount of $8,142 to which she was not entitled while working as a casual employee at the U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Jersey City. For the period from Dec. 11 to Dec. 24, 2010, Long allegedly under-reported her income, and for the 26-week span from Nov. 19, 2011 through May 18, 2012, she allegedly reported no hours worked and no income, even though she worked nearly 1,000 hours for the U.S. Postal Service.

Diana Rivera, 34, of Paterson, N.J., was indicted yesterday, Nov. 16. It is alleged that Rivera filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims for 10 consecutive weeks between March 10 and May 18, 2012, to receive unemployment benefits in the amount of $6,792 to which she was not entitled while employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a carrier assistant at the Elmwood Park Post Office.

Siobhan Austin, 40, of Irvington, N.J., was indicted on Nov. 4. It is alleged that Austin filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims between Sept. 10, 2011 and Nov. 29, 2013, to receive unemployment benefits in the amount of $6,629 to which she was not entitled. During that time, Austin was employed as a carrier technician for the U.S. Postal Service in Paramus and earned gross income of $34,000, but she allegedly reported only $2,687 of the income.

Tea Graham-Gates, 45, of Jersey City, N.J., was indicted on Oct. 16. It is alleged that Graham-Gates filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims between June 19, 2010 and July 8, 2011, to receive unemployment benefits in the amount of $3,388 to which she was not entitled. During that time, Graham-Gates was employed as a mail processing clerk in Kearny.

Aaron J. Buie, 71, of Piscataway, N.J., was indicted yesterday, Nov. 16. It is alleged that Buie filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims for six consecutive weeks between March 2 and April 12, 2013, to receive unemployment benefits in the amount of $2,961 to which he was not entitled while employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a city carrier at the Muhlenberg Station Post Office in Plainfield.

Eboni M. Bush, 35, of Plainfield, N.J., was indicted on Nov. 4. It is alleged that Bush filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims for five consecutive weeks between May 10 and June 13, 2014, to receive unemployment benefits in the amount of $2,247 to which she was not entitled. During that time she was employed as a letter carrier in New Brunswick.

Atalaya C. Haskins, 26, of Newark, N.J., was indicted on Oct. 16. It is alleged that Haskins filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims between Jan. 7, 2012 and Nov. 21, 2014, to receive unemployment benefits in the amount of $2,058 to which she was not entitled. During that time, Haskins was employed as a mail processing clerk in Kearny.

All of the defendants are former employees of the U.S. Postal Service, with the exception of Austin and Haskins, who currently are suspended from their jobs with the U.S. Postal Service as a result of these investigations.