|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that an Essex County mother and daughter have been found guilty at trial for their roles in a scheme to defraud the State of New Jersey of nearly $600,000 by filing false unemployment insurance fund claims.
Janice Allen, 57, of Newark and her daughter Janice Dilligard, 37, of Newark, were convicted late Friday (Dec. 20) of second-degree conspiracy, second-degree theft by deception and second-degree financial facilitation, possession of property derived from criminal activity. Janice Allen was additionally found guilty of third-degree theft by deception. The verdict followed a three-week jury trial before Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier in Mercer County. The charges were contained in a March 1, 2012 state grand jury indictment.
Judge Billmeier scheduled sentencing for Feb. 14. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000 while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
Deputy Attorneys General Phillip Leahy and Anthony Torntore tried the case for the Division of Criminal Justice.
“The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is in place in New Jersey for people who lose their jobs and need money to put food on their tables,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “We will not tolerate criminals treating this taxpayer-funded program as their own personal piggy bank.”
The charges stemmed from “Operation Labor Day,” a joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
"We uncovered this fraudulent scheme as our department adopted unprecedented anti-fraud measures that have, to date, prevented more than $330 million from going into the hands of fraudsters,” Labor Commissioner Harold J. Wirths said. “This Administration has taken a no-tolerance stand against those who would steal from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which offers an important safety net to Garden State workers, and with the state Office of the Attorney General we will see that anyone caught stealing from the fund is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The jury found that between 2007 and Nov. 9, 2010, Allen and Dilligard received unemployment benefits by filing false claims in the names of numerous claimants, including relatives and people who were deceased. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice determined the amount of theft to be $585,304. The jury also found that the defendants possessed the proceeds of their criminal activity in numerous bank accounts including internet bank accounts, which they accessed through the use of debit cards, to facilitate the crimes.
Five co-defendants were indicted along with Allen and Dilligard for their roles in the scheme and all of those charges have been resolved.
A separate indictment resulting from Operation Labor Day charges Terry E. Dilligard, 37, of Newark (Janice’s twin brother), his ex-girlfriend, Monique Valentine, 35, of Roselle, and Terry Dilligard Sr., 58, of Deland, Fla., (the father of Terry and Janice Dilligard) with defrauding the State of New Jersey of a total of $1,489,411 in unemployment benefits. Valentine pleaded guilty on March 13 to charges of conspiracy and theft and faces a five-year sentence. The charges against Terry E. Dilligard and his father are pending, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice by Detective Kimberly Allen and Detective Eric Ludwick of the Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, and Deputy Attorneys General Leahy and Torntore of the Labor Prosecutions Unit.
Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public can also log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received through the Division of Criminal Justice tipline or webpage will remain confidential.