News and Press Releases

Former Wilton Manors Resident Sentenced for Defrauding the State of Florida Unemployment Compensation Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2013

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 Cynthia R. Lorenzo, Interim Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, announce that defendant Denny Ray Hughes, 40, formerly of Wilton Manors, FL, was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, in connection with his previous conviction for wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A for his role in defrauding the Unemployment Compensation Programs of both the State of Florida and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

At the hearing, Judge Dimitrouleas sentenced defendant Hughes to 41 months in prison for the wire fraud and a consecutive 24 months in prison for the aggravated identity theft, for a total imprisonment of 65 months, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered that he pay $219,970 in restitution to the State of Florida and $70,524 in restitution to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

According to the indictment and court documents, 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. Moreover, the investigation also disclosed that Hughes devised a similar scheme by creating another fictitious company under the name of Commonwealth Global Corp (CWGC) located in Massachusetts. In that scheme, Hughes utilized personal identifying information of at least 23 individuals to fraudulently apply for and receive approximately $70,524.00 in Massachusetts UI benefits.

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.

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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.

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