Tennessee Couple Indicted For Veteran’s Unemployment Compensation Fraud And Money Laundering
HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a Tennessee couple were indicted by a federal grand jury on November 9, 2016, for fraudulently obtaining $98,165 in veterans’ unemployment compensation benefits.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Earl Lafayete Hall, III, age 35, and his wife, Renita Blunt, age 31, both of Arlington, Tennessee, are charged in a second superseding indictment with mail fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
According to the second superseding indictment, with Blunt’s assistance, Hall allegedly applied for veteran’s unemployment compensation benefits in three states under the false name and identity of 11 individuals (ten men and one women) between January 2013 and March 2015. One claim was submitted to the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, three claims were submitted to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, and seven claims were submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
Hall and Blunt allegedly received the benefits under the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Members Program, commonly known as “The UCX Program,” a federally-funded U.S. Department of Labor program administered by the individual states. Under this federal-state partnership, the states pay out unemployment insurance benefits to the veterans and are subsequently reimbursed by the various branches of the military. Benefits are based upon the military wages and pay grade of the serviceman at the time of his or her separation from military service.
Hall and Blunt were previously indicted by a Middle District of Pennsylvania grand jury on June 22, 2016. Today’s second superseding indictment adds Blunt as a defendant on the ten money laundering counts, adds a count of conspiracy to commit money laundering against both defendants, and alleges the three false Utah claims for UCX benefits, which paid out approximately $10,000 in benefits, were also part of the mail fraud scheme. No date has yet been scheduled for the defendants’ arraignment on the new charges.
The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, U.S. Defense Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service with assistance from Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Internal Audits Division, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation Benefits and Policy, and the Pennsylvania Department of the Treasury, Office of Unemployment Compensation Disbursements. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law for each count is 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
# # #