State Prisoners Sentenced to Federal Prison for Unemployment Insurance Fraud | USAO-NDNY

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Reginald Thornton, 29, and Lord Paulin, 41, were sentenced today to federal prison terms for defrauding pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs while serving state prison terms at the Center Bare Hill Correctional Facility in Malone. New York. Additionally, Rhasha Wright, 30, of Roosevelt, New York, pleaded guilty today to conspiring with Thornton and Paulin as part of the fraud scheme.

The announcement was made by US Attorney Carla B. Freedman; Jonathan Mellone, Special Agent in Charge, New York Region, US Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General (USDOL-OIG); Matthew Scarpino, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the Boston Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); Anthony J. Annucci, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYSDOCCS); and Roberta Reardon, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL).

Thornton and Paulin previously pleaded guilty to federal charges for their respective roles in the fraud scheme. Chief United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby sentenced Thornton to 51 months in federal prison and imposed a 2-year supervised release period to follow the jail term. Chief Judge Suddaby sentenced Paulin to 19 months in prison and imposed a 2-year supervised release period. Thornton and Paulin will begin their federal prison terms after their respective terms of incarceration in New York state have ended.

In his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, Wright admitted to submitting false unemployment insurance claims to the NYSDOL on behalf of Paulin and on behalf of another Bare Hill prisoner. Prisoners were not entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

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Wright agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $11,696 to the State of New York.

Wright’s mail fraud conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 3 years of supervised release. Conviction of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of 2 years in prison, to be imposed consecutively with any other prison terms. Wright is scheduled to be sentenced on November 3, 2022 by Chief Judge Suddaby. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is accused of violating, the US Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.

The case was investigated by USDOL-OIG, HSI, USPIS, and the NYSDOCCS and NYSDOL Offices of Special Investigations. Prosecuting the case are Assistant US Attorneys John T. Chisholm and Joshua R. Rosenthal.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Control Task Force to bring together Department of Justice resources in partnership with agencies across the government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent fraud. related to the pandemic. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies charged with administering aid programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and leveraging information and insights gained from past enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, visit

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud related to COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the Complaint Form NCDF website at: https://www

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