WORCESTER MAN SENTENCED FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT SCAM
BOSTON, Mass. - A Kenyan national, who was living in Worcester, was sentenced today to 81 months in prison for his role in a scheme to obtain more than $600,000 in unemployment benefits.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Daniel Petrole, Acting Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor; Matthew Etre, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Office of Investigations in Boston; Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; James Ennis, Special Agent in Charge of the Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department of State; and Edward T. Malmborg, Director of the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development, Division of Unemployment Assistance, announced that PETER MWANGI, 35, a Kenyan citizen who at the time of these offenses was in the United States illegally, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 81 months in prison, to be followed by 36 months of supervised release. Judge Saylor also ordered MWANGI to pay a $10,000 fine and restitution in the amount of $612,913. MWANGI pled guilty in December 2009 to three counts of mail fraud in connection with the scheme and also pled guilty to a separate Indictment charging him with passport fraud and aggravated identity theft.
From about March 2006 through June 2008, MWANGI registered 11fictitious employers with the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”) and then filed hundreds of fraudulent claims in the names of supposed former employees of these businesses. MWANGI used his own identity as well as the names and Social Security numbers of other individuals, both living and deceased, to make the claims. DUA mailed the benefit checks to a number of addresses that MWANGI controlled and MWANGI then cashed or deposited the checks into bank accounts he controlled. Over the course of the scheme, MWANGI obtained about $612,913 in bogus unemployment benefits.
In June 2007, MWANGI applied for and obtained a U.S. passport using another man’s name, Social Security number, birthdate and other biographical information. The passport, bearing MWANGI’s photo but the other man’s name and identifying information, was seized in September 2008 during a search of MWANGI’s storage unit in Webster, MA.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor; Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Office of Investigations in Boston; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department of State; and the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development, Division of Unemployment Assistance. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.