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Press Release

Ex-Soldier Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To Four Years In Prison For Extensive Veterans’ Unemployment Benefits Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Christopher Wilson Obtained Approximately $143,000 To Which He Was Not Entitled

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CHRISTOPHER WILSON, a one-time Army private who was dishonorably discharged in 2003 after deserting his post, was sentenced today to four years in prison for filing dozens of false and fraudulent applications for unemployment benefits intended for other military veterans, ultimately obtaining approximately $143,000 to which he was not entitled. WILSON pled guilty in July 2012 to one count of theft of Government funds and one count of mail fraud. He was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr.

According to the Complaint, the Information, WILSON’s plea agreement, statements made in court proceedings, and other public documents:

Federal law provides for a permanent program of unemployment compensation for unemployed individuals separated from the Armed Forces, called the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Members Program (“UCX”). UCX benefits are funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and administered by the states on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”). To qualify for UCX benefits, a claimant must provide his or her Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (known as a “DD Form 214”), and must have been discharged or separated from their respective service honorably.

Between August 2010 until his arrest in September 2011, WILSON conspired with others to file dozens of false and fraudulent applications for UCX benefits to which they were not entitled. They did so by obtaining the names and social security numbers of unknowing individuals; creating fraudulent DD Form 214s and other documents which purported to indicate that these individuals had served in, and been honorably discharged from, the military; and then submitting these fraudulent documents to states, including New York, in support of claims for UCX benefits. In so doing, WILSON received approximately $143,000 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

In addition to the prison term, WILSON, 33, of Spring Lake, North Carolina, was ordered to pay $143,000 in restitution to the New York State Department of Labor (“NYS DOL”).

Mr. Bharara thanked DOL, NYS DOL, and the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Edward B. Diskant is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-130