Former Wilton Manors Resident Indicted for Defrauding the State of Florida Unemployment Compensation Program
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Richard Walker, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and Jesse Panuccio, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, announced today the arrest and unsealing of a twelve (12) count indictment charging defendant Denny Ray Hughes, 40, formerly of Wilton Manors, FL, with nine (9) counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and three (3) counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.
If convicted on the wire fraud counts, the defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to twenty years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. If convicted on the aggravated identity theft counts, the defendant faces a mandatory two years imprisonment consecutive to any other sentence imposed.
According to the indictment, between January 2011 and April 2012, defendant Hughes obtained the personal identifying information of approximately 21 individuals, including their names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, and in order to obtain and build wage credits for the purported employees filed or caused to be filed fraudulent quarterly UCT-6 forms with the Florida Department of Revenue classifying them as employees of Mortgage Relief America, LLC (MRA). Alternatively, defendant Hughes submitted falsified W-2’s to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to create the appearance that these individuals had previously worked for MRA. The defendant thereafter classified these individuals as laid off employees and fraudulently filed applications with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity seeking unemployment compensation benefits on their behalf utilizing their personal identifying information. Once these fraudulent unemployment compensation applications had been submitted to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the defendant made materially false, misleading, and fraudulent claims to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Unemployment Compensation Program over the internet and/or over the telephone on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and thereby caused unemployment compensation funds from the Florida Department of Financial Services to be deposited directly into the defendant’s bank account via electronic funds transfers. In total, the defendant allegedly defrauded the State of Florida out of approximately $206,000.00.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless 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.