A federal prosecutor says that two people who worked for the New York State Department of Labor cheated the state out of more than $1.6 million in unemployment insurance benefits. They are now no longer working for New York State.
It’s been a while since a grand jury indictment against the second person in the scheme was released, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York says that both have now been charged.
Albany is home to both Wendell Giles and Carl DiVeglia, who are both from the same area of New York,
From about July 2020 to August 2021, Giles and DiVeglia allegedly made false claims for unemployment benefits in the names of other people, then used their access to the New York State Department of Labor computer system to get benefits for the false claims.
The Department of Justice says that after the benefits were given to other people, the two conspirators would get a share of the money they made from the scam.
On Friday, 33-year-old DiVeglia pleaded guilty to mail fraud and identity theft, admitting that he played a role in over $1.6 million in losses to the New York State Department of Labor and that he personally made about $225,000 from the scheme. He did not fight the charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says that Giles, 33, was in court on Friday, but he hasn’t agreed to plead guilty.
A mail fraud charge can lead to up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release.
The aggravated identity theft charge comes with a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, which must be served in addition to any other terms of prison that the person has already served.
Wendell Giles is said to have broken the public’s trust by taking money from government programmes meant to help people who were out of work during a global pandemic.
The honesty of the people who help to run government benefits programmes is very important for the integrity of the programmes. US Attorney Carla Freedman said in a statement that the government is still putting a lot of emphasis on COVID fraud prosecutions in order to keep the public’s faith in these programmes and make those who have abused them pay.