ENFIELD WOMAN ADMITS ROLE IN
SCHEME TO DEFRAUD MASS MUTUAL
Deirdre M. Daly, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that THERESA SUTHERLAND, 33, of Enfield, pleaded guilty yesterday before Senior U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford to conspiracy and identity theft offenses stemming from a scheme to defraud Mass Mutual.
According to court documents and statements made in court, SUTHERLAND was employed by Mass Mutual Financial Group as a claims examiner in the company’s Enfield office. Mass Mutual offers full-time employees up to $8,500 in college tuition reimbursement and up to $5,000 reimbursement for the expenses associated with the adoption of a child. In pleading guilty, SUTHERLAND admitted that she and other Mass Mutual employees defrauded the company by submitting numerous fraudulent claims for tuition reimbursement and adoption expenses. In association with the fraudulent claims for adoption expenses, SUTHERLAND and her co-conspirators submitted birth certificates and Social Security numbers of actual children who were not their own.
SUTHERLAND and her co-conspirators received approximately $240,000 in fraudulent reimbursements during the conspiracy, and SUTHERLAND specifically received more than $75,000.
SUTHERLAND pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive two-year term of imprisonment. Judge Covello has scheduled sentencing for February 11, 2014.
Four other former employees of Mass Mutual have been charged as a result of this ongoing investigation. Tamika A. Barnett, 31, of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Marena Bennett-Smith, 41, of Chicopee, Mass., have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
As to the two defendants who are awaiting trial, Acting U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation is being conducted by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, which includes members of the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Connecticut State Police, and the Greenwich, Hartford, Monroe, Stamford, Shelton, Stratford and Waterford Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas P. Morabito.
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