NYS Employees Illegally Collected Unemployment Benefits While on the State’s Payroll

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrests of 30 former and current New York State employees who allegedly obtained unemployment benefits illegally while on State payroll. The individuals were arrested as part of the Attorney General’s statewide sweep over the past week, targeting abuses of the financially strapped New York State unemployment system. In New York’s current fiscal crisis, the unemployment insurance fund provides much-needed financial relief to thousands of New Yorkers who have lost their jobs.

According to complaints filed in New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Nassau, Albany, Dutchess, Rockland and Westchester Counties over the past week, these 30 defendants stole thousands of dollars from New York State by falsely certifying that they were qualified for unemployment insurance benefits through the Department of Labor’s electronic certification process.

“New York’s unemployment insurance fund was created to help hard-working individuals who find themselves out of a job get back on their feet,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “In this economic climate, the fund is more important than ever, and we cannot allow it to be depleted through fraud, waste and abuse. Individuals who attempt to undermine the safety net we provide for New Yorkers will be held accountable.”

In order to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits in New York, an individual must truthfully certify by phone or Internet, on a weekly basis, that he or she has not worked more than four days that week or earned more than $405 that week. The New York State Department of Labor has a system in place to routinely cross-check State employees against individuals receiving unemployment benefits. According to the Attorney General’s Office, the 30 defendants all lied to the Department of Labor and falsely certified that they were eligible for benefits. Several of the defendants are accused of falsely certifying their ineligibility to work for 15 or more consecutive weeks, stealing thousands of dollars from New York’s unemployment insurance fund.

The following individuals from across the State were arrested by the Attorney General’s Office over the past week:

* Maureen McGovern, 70, of Greenwich Street, New York, NY
* Randy Destin, 45, of Pacific Street, Brooklyn, NY
* Kimberly Abrams, 42, of Watson Avenue, Bronx, NY
* Ronald Antoine, 52, of Cruger Avenue, Bronx, NY
* William Gee, 45, of 151st Street, Bronx, NY
* Ani Leon-Marquez, 42, of 169th Street, Bronx, NY
* Gail Miller, 32, of Elsmere Place, Bronx, NY
* Phillip Lee, 24, of Channingway Court East, Columbus, OH
* Nestloye Elliot, 50, of Bascolm Ave, Jamaica, NY
* Martha Ulloa, 34, of 88th Street, Woodhaven, NY
* Gaylord Beltran, 27, of Forest Avenue, Staten Island, NY
* Aliesohn Reid, 27, of Caton Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
* Renee Bridgeman, 36, of Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
* Kira S. Young, 27, of Albany, NY
* Jamie Viola, 31, of Latham, NY
* Jean Davis, 53, of Albany, NY
* Greg Askilden, 53, of Palenville, NY
* Tracy Barber, 26, of Rome, NY
* Wayne Earing, 36, of Rensselaer, NY
* Deborah Girgenti, 55, of Rensselaer, NY
* Charles McMillan, 53, of Hartwick, NY
* Cesar Ferarras, Jr., 35, of Poughkeepsie, NY
* Joel Babcock, 33, of Stony Point, NY
* Dawn Chase, 49, of Peekskill, NY
* Steve Lawrence, 46, of Mount Vernon, NY
* Carmen Alvarez, 38, of Islandia, NY
* Aida Licata, 48, of Center Moriches, NY
* Donna Ryall, 51, of Deer Park, NY
* Jimmy Rodriguez, 48, of Williston Park, NY

The various charges brought against the 30 individuals across the State include Grand Larceny in the Third and Fourth Degrees (D and E felonies), Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (E Felony) and Petit Larceny (A misdemeanor). Defendants charged with D felonies may be sentenced to up to seven years in prison while those charged with E felonies face up to four years incarceration.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The Attorney General thanked the New York State Department of Labor for their help during the initial investigation.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jessica E. Silver of the Attorney Generals Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Monica Stamm of the Public Integrity Bureau, Deputy Bureau Chief Richard Ernst of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, Special Deputy Attorney General for Public Integrity Ellen Biben, and Executive Deputy Attorney General Robin Baker. The investigation was handled by Investigator Mike Ward under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator Thomas Richardson, and Internal Security Specialist Michelle Martone with the New York State Department of Labor.