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Press Release

Tampa Man Sentenced To More Than Five Years For Conspiracy To Commit COVID-Related Unemployment Insurance Fraud And Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge William Jung has sentenced Steve Aloysius Moodie, Jr. (35, Tampa) to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. As part of his sentence, the court also ordered Moodie to pay $1,070,647 in restitution, jointly with co-defendant Melinda Sue Hernandez (33, Ruskin), to the various state workforce agencies they defrauded. Moodie had pleaded guilty on September 19, 2022.

Hernandez was previously sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for her role in the conspiracy.  

According to court documents, from approximately June 2020 through April 2021, Moodie and Hernandez obtained personal identifying information (PII) of others without their knowledge. Hernandez was employed as a medical assistant at a Tampa Bay area hospital and gained access to patient PII, which she used to further the scheme. Moodie used that PII and that of others to submit, and cause to be submitted, false and fraudulent unemployment insurance (UI) claims to various state workforce agencies to obtain UI benefits. These UI benefits were then transferred to bank accounts or loaded onto debit cards issued in the names of others. Moodie and Hernandez then used, and attempted to use, the fraudulently obtained debit cards to withdraw money from ATMs. Law enforcement calculated the total intended loss caused by the fraudulent UI claims to be between $1.5 million and $3.5 million.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Greg Pizzo.

In March 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which expanded states’ ability to provide UI for many workers impacted by COVID-19, including for workers who were not ordinarily eligible for benefits.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit

Updated March 3, 2023

Disaster Fraud
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft