Union County man admits to stealing $450,000 in unemployment benefits

A Union Township man today admitted that he illegally obtained more than $450,000 in New Jersey unemployment insurance benefits. 

Maurice Mills, 29, of Union, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti to an information charging him with wire fraud.

According to U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig, 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 provides unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) for individuals who were not eligible for other types of unemployment such as the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers.

The CARES Act also created a new temporary federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation that provides additional benefits to those eligible for PUA and regular UIB.

The New York State Department of Labor administers and manages the regular unemployment and PUA programs in the State of New York.

Between August and September of 2020, Mills submitted fraudulent UIB applications to the State of New York using the names of other individuals.

As a result, the State of New York approved and provided, and Mills falsely obtained, more than $450,000 in UIB.

The charge of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profits to Mills or loss suffered by the victims, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2022.

Honig 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; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., in Newark; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero in Newark; and special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark McKevitt in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

She also thanked the New York State Department of Labor, Office of Special Investigations for its assistance in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrime Unit in Newark. 

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