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Five County Residents Arrested In Unemployment Fraud Crackdown

Police swept across Upstate New York, arresting scores of people as part of a crackdown on unemployment insurance fraud.

Five Oswego County residents were caught in the sweep.  Their identities and the amount they are alleged to have gotten illegally are below:

NAME ADDRESS AMOUNT
Noel Baker
52 Evans Road, Pennellville $7,579.50
Brian Donhauser 91 Cowpath Road, Fulton $4,140.50
Eugene Crowe 19 Waterview Road, #16, Oswego $5,022.00
John Sculco, Jr. 179 County Route 57, Phoenix $6,027.50
Jason Mott 221 West 6th Street, #1, Oswego $5,467.50
State Labor Department Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announces a crackdown on unemployment insurance fraud at a press conference in Syracuse, flanked by DAs from many of the counties of Central New York and the Southern Tier.  State Labor Department photo.
State Labor Department Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announces a crackdown on unemployment insurance fraud at a press conference in Syracuse, flanked by DAs from many of the counties of Central New York and the Southern Tier. State Labor Department photo.

State officials announced the arrests at a press conference in Syracuse Monday morning.  In the four county region, 27 people were arrested for taking nearly $150,000 in unemployment benefits to which they were not entitled.  The state said most of those arrested were drawing paychecks elsewhere while drawing unemployment benefits.

“It is nothing short of shameful to think that people would steal from a fund designed to help families put food on the table, gas in their cars and clothes on the backs of their children,” said State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith.

From a State Labor Department press release:

The State Labor Department administers unemployment insurance benefits for the federal government. The weekly payments assist eligible workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. To qualify for UI, people must be:

* unemployed;
* ready, willing and able to work; and
* searching for a new job.

When applicants cheat the system by stealing from the UI Trust Fund, it has a negative effect on businesses across the state. Employers whose accounts pay for the false claims must take on a higher tax rate. For example, the average employer in New York State (with some 14 employees) that has an undetected fraudulent claim filed against it will pay over $700 more in taxes the next year. However, if we detect the fraud the tax increase is not charged to the employer.

“Unemployment insurance is a safety net for those who need assistance, not a jackpot for those who would game the system and cheat their neighbors,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise E. O’Donnell. “In this economic climate, when government resources are scarce and needs high, we must be especially vigilant to discourage and punish cheating. Governor Paterson and I applaud Commissioner Smith and local law enforcement officials for their aggressive efforts to track down cheaters and recover the money they stole from honest taxpayers.”

New York State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt said, “The State Police stands ready to assist in investigating and apprehending those individuals willing to engage in the fraudulent use of Unemployment Insurance funds meant to assist honest workers and their families.”

To make an anonymous report about fraud against the Unemployment Insurance fund, call the Department of Labor’s toll-free hotline at (888) 598-2077.