Essex County Man Charged in Scheme to Fraudulently Obtain More Than $4 Million from Government Programs
NEWARK, N.J. – A former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employee today admitted that he fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Khaori Monroe, 29, of Newark, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Julien X. Neals to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law. The CARES Act created a new temporary federal unemployment insurance program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provided unemployment insurance benefits for individuals who were not eligible for other types of unemployment (the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers). The CARES Act also created a new temporary federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (FPUC) that provided an additional $600 weekly benefit to those eligible for PUA and regular unemployment insurance benefits.
Monroe was employed as a mail carrier with the USPS. He and others stole credit/debit cards containing unemployment insurance benefits from a location in New Jersey. Monroe and others then activated the cards and used the cards to obtain more than $40,000.
The charge of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross profits to Monroe or twice the gross loss suffered by the victims, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone in Manhattan; and postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Damon Wood, Philadelphia Division, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrime Unit in Newark.