Crime and Courts

NJ Man Admits to Fraudulently Getting $1.2M in COVID-Related Unemployment Benefits

The Paterson man faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in March

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A New Jersey man who with the help of an alleged accomplice submitted more than 100 fraudulent claims for federal COVID-19-related unemployment benefits that resulted in more than $1.2 million in payments pleaded guilty to wire fraud on Friday, federal prosecutors said.

Omar Thompson, 39, of Paterson, New Jersey, and the other person, whose name was redacted from court documents, filed the claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Boston.

Thompson did not live or work in Massachusetts at the time, authorities said.

PUA benefits were intended for people affected by the pandemic not eligible for other types of unemployment payments, such as gig economy workers and the self-employed.

About half of the claims were made on behalf of people who did not live in Massachusetts. In some instances, Thompson recruited people from other states to apply for benefits in Massachusetts, submitted claims on their behalf, and then received financial kickbacks from those people, prosecutors said.

Thompson, who was charged in August, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 22.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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