Six Defendants Arrested and Charged in Unemployment Compensation Benefits Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Richard L. Walker, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Labor and Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, Atlanta Regional Office, and Hunting F. Deutsch, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, announce the arrests of the following defendants on charges of mail and wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, and Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, stemming from the alleged fraudulent receipt of unemployment compensation benefit payments, each in an amount of more than $10,000:
Seth J. Bergen, 53, Boca Raton, Fl.
Anne Marie Castroverde-Menendez, 50, Hollywood, Florida
Joseph Louis Hardardt, 50, Lake Worth, Florida
Andre Dennard Huggins, 46, West Palm Beach, Florida
Robert H. Phaneuf, III, 32, Boynton Beach, Florida
Steven Bernard Rice, 39, Delray Beach, Florida
Initial appearances were held on August 22 and 23, 2012, before the U.S. Magistrate Judge James M. Hopkins, in West Palm Beach, Florida. All defendants were released on $10,000 Personal Surety Bonds.
According to six separate indictments, the defendants made fraudulent claims in which they alleged that they were entitled to unemployment compensation benefits to which they were not entitled. The indictments allege that defendants made false claims over the internet or telephone claiming they were entitled to benefits when in fact they were not. Defendants directed the unemployment compensation benefits be sent to them either by mail (mail fraud) or by wire transfer (wire fraud) to their checking or debit accounts.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Labor and Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, Atlanta Regional Office, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emalyn H. Webber.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.