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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
December 15, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

Rachel Sacharow
609-984-1936

 

Division of Criminal Justice Charges Two South Jersey Residents with Illegally Collecting More than $24,200 in Unemployment Benefits
DCJ Recoups More than $785,000 in UI Benefits During 2005

TRENTON – Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy announced that the Major Financial Crimes Bureau has charged two South Jersey residents with illegally collecting more than $24,200 in Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. The prosecutions result from a cooperative investigative effort by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD) and the Division of Criminal Justice.

According to Director McKoy, the Division of Criminal Justice obtained separate State Grand Jury indictments charging two people with theft by deception and unsworn falsification to authorities for allegedly bilking the New Jersey UI benefits program out of more than $24,200.

"The Division of Criminal Justice and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development have established investigative protocols which target deliberate and blatant attempts by individuals who attempt to steal thousands of dollars from the state unemployment fund," said Criminal Justice Director McKoy. “Make no mistake, we intend to investigate, prosecute, recoup and return dollars stolen from our unemployment compensation programs."

"The Department of Labor and Workforce Development uses a variety of methods to track those who would abuse the system and fraudulently obtain benefits," said Unemployment Insurance Director David Socolow. "These cases were first identified by DLWD investigators by cross-matching employer-submitted wage information against UI benefit payments; pursuing leads from employer protests of UI benefit charges; surveying employer payroll records; and responding to alerts from the staff of our local claims offices."

A State Grand Jury indictment charged Marcia Siligato, 41, Colgate Avenue, Longport, Atlantic County, with two counts each of theft by deception and unsworn falsification to authorities. Siligato filed for UI benefits in September 2001 and again in October 2002. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice determined that for a significant portion of the time she was collecting on these claims, Siligato was employed by Action Janitorial, Inc., located in N. Atlantic City, Atlantic County. By not reporting her earnings to the DLWD, it is charged that Siligato bilked the UI benefits program out of more than $14,800.

A second State Grand Jury indictment charged Jeffrey Williams, 43, North Collings Road, Camden, Camden County, with theft by deception and unsworn falsification to authorities. Williams filed for UI benefits in July 2001 and collected on the claim until February 2002. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice determined that during the entire time he was collecting benefits, Williams was employed by Ryder Truck Rental, Inc. located in Swedesboro, Gloucester County. The indictment alleges that Williams failed to notify DLWD of his employment and subsequently stole more than $9,950 in UI benefits.

Deputy Attorney Mark Kurzawa presented Siligato’s case to the State Grand Jury, which will be venued in Atlantic County. DAG Edward Werner presented Williams’ case, which will be venued in Burlington County. State Investigators Lynn Fitzgerald and Gary O’Brien coordinated the investigations.

Theft by deception is a third-degree crime which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while unsworn falsification to authorities is a fourth-degree crime which calls for up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

In 2005, the Major Financial Crimes Bureau - Labor Prosecution Section recouped more than $785,000 from individuals charged with stealing benefits from the Unemployment Insurance and Temporary Disabilities Benefits Programs. The Section obtained 50 indictments this year ($652,300 recovered in restitution) and 13 criminal Accusations ($132,000 recovered in restitution).

Highlights of the Labor Prosecutions Section’s work include:

  • On June 2, Michael Buonopane, 45, Hill Pond Lane, Rumson, Monmouth County, pleaded guilty to two counts of misapplication of entrusted property and one count of failure to filed corporate business tax return, counts contained in a Nov. 30, 2004 State Grand Jury indictment. Buonopane, an attorney and CPA, admitted that he failed to pay more than $2.7 million in state/federal employee tax monies and instead kept the money for his own personal use. Under the plea agreement, when sentenced in January, 2006, Buonopane will be ordered to pay more than $4 million, which includes restitution, interest and penalties. DAG Denise Grugan prosecuted the case.
  • In October, a jury convicted Rene Bradley-Williams, 46, Cypress Drive, Vineland, Cumberland County, on four counts of theft by deception, seven counts of forgery, and one count of theft of services. Her son, Robert Bradley, III, was also convicted of theft by deception. The conviction followed a three-week trial prosecuted by DAG Mark Kurzawa. The charges stemmed from a June 15, 2004 State Grand Jury indictment.
  • In May, a jury convicted Patricia Mitchell, 41, Ivy Street, Newark, Essex County, of theft by deception and unsworn falsification to authorities. Mitchell, who was charged via a May 2004 State Grand Jury indictment, collected more than $8,400 in UI benefits while working at the Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, a New Jersey State Government facility. As a result of the verdict, she was removed from her state position as a boiler room operator and ordered to serve three-years probation and to pay restitution. DAG Candy Cure prosecuted the case.
  • A Nov. 17 State Grand Jury indictment charged Brian Rambough, 48, Westwood Court, Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County, with two counts of theft by deception and one count of unsworn falsification to authorities. Rambough filed two separate UI Benefits claims - one in November 1999 and the other in November 2000. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice determined that Rambough failed to notify DLWD that he was earning wages as a security guard for the Atlantic City Board of Education and for Pinkerton Security, located in Marlton, Burlington County and subsequently stole more than $11,700 in UI benefits. DAG Cure prosecuted the case.
  • On June 20, Valerie A. Sealey, 31, Phillip Avenue, Trenton, Mercer County, pleaded guilty to theft by deception. In September, Sealey was ordered to serve five-years probation and to repay more than $9,000 in restitution. Sealey filed for UI benefits in October, 1999 and collected on the claim until April, 2000. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice determined that in October, 1999, Tri-State Employment Services, Inc., a temporary employment agency, placed Sealey at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs where she worked on a temporary basis as a data entry clerk until December of that year. According to the indictment, Sealey was hired by the Department of Community Affairs in February, 2000. It is charged that Sealey failed to notify the DLWD of the earnings. Sealey is currently employed by the State of New Jersey’s Office of Administrative Law. DAG Grugan prosecuted the case.

A copy of this release and the related indictments can be found at www.NJDCJ.org.

The indictments are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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