TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that an Essex County mother and daughter were sentenced to state prison today after they were 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 each sentenced to 15 years in state prison with five years of parole ineligibility. Janice Dilligard was ordered to pay $25,000.00 in restitution and Janice Allen was ordered to pay $15,000.00. The defendants were convicted on Dec. 20 of second-degree conspiracy, second-degree theft by deception and second-degree financial facilitation (possession of property derived from criminal activity). Allen also was 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.
Deputy Attorneys General Phillip Leahy and Anthony Torntore tried the case for the Division of Criminal Justice and represented the state at the sentencing.
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.
“These two con artists deceitfully drained valuable resources from a program meant to be a financial lifeline for hard-working New Jerseyans who lose their jobs,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “The prison sentences imposed today send a clear message that such criminal behavior will not be tolerated in the state of New Jersey.
“The Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development will continue to work together to root out this type of fraud,” said Elie Honig, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice.
“We have maintained a no-tolerance stand against anyone who steals from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, and with the state Office of the Attorney General, we have prosecuted everyone caught defrauding the system to the fullest extent. We also have implemented anti-fraud measures that have, to date, prevented more than $330 million from going into the hands of fraudsters and we continue to improve out fraud detection techniques to protect this important safety net,” Labor Commissioner Harold J. Wirths said.
In convicting the defendants, 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.