Former Labor & Training Employee to Plead Guilty to Fraud, Theft of Funds
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – According to documents filed in federal court in Providence today, Ambulai R. Sheku, 37, of Providence, a former Senior Employment Interviewer with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), has agreed to plead guilty to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, theft of government funds and accessing a protected computer to commit fraud.
It is alleged in the information that between June 2009 and February 2015, Sheku used his position at DLT and his authorized access to DLT computer files to participate in a scheme to make unauthorized changes to benefit recipients’ files which resulted in the fraudulent disbursement of more than $508,000 of unemployment insurance benefits.
Charges filed in this matter are announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Lieutenant Colonel Kevin M. Barry, Acting Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; and Michael C. Mikulka, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Region of the Department of Labor - Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.
According to court documents, it is alleged that Sheku used his authorized access to DLT computers and computer files to obtain unemployment benefits for himself and others to which they were not entitled. It is alleged that as part of the scheme Sheku changed the mailing addresses of legitimate unemployment insurance beneficiaries, thus causing banks to mail unemployment insurance benefits to individuals not entitled to receive them; without authorization, extended the expiration of benefits for members of the conspiracy; caused fraudulent claims, including claims by individuals who were employed and thus ineligible for unemployment benefits, to be approved and dispersed; increased the balance of unemployment insurance benefits; and fraudulently removed blocks or “stops” on benefit payments, thus allowing coconspirators to continue receiving benefits to which they were not entitled.
It is alleged in court documents that the scheme resulted in a loss to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training of approximately $508,691, of which approximately $350,606 were federal funds.
Sheku made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court today before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond. An information is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The matter continues to be investigated by the United States Attorney’s Office, Rhode Island State Police and the U.S. Department of Labor, with the assistance of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly.
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
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