Postal workers in court on fraud, larceny charges

NEW BRITAIN, Conn.(WTNH)– Seven New Britain postal workers accused of collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits are facing larceny and fraud charges.

The state of Connecticut is cracking down on unemployment fraud in general. They say they have made 60-70 arrest since they started their sting operation but now that the are looking at postal workers. They say some may be working together to milk the system.

The mug shots of these seven alleged scammers look like a dysfunctional Brady Bunch minus two, but the way they became a bunch was due to a high tech investigation

“Sometimes just computer cross matches are done one database, that’s employers reporting that they paid wages to certain people. We had people who were collecting wages and then they just cross match and those names come up for us to investigate,” said Marcia Pillsbury, Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney.

One by one they stood before a judge Tuesday, each accused of scamming the government out of thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits. According to court documents Robbin Smith, Jewel Bowman, Maurice James, Kelly Johnson, Erin Chappell, Rafael Jaworski and Jerea Little, who didn’t show up for court Tuesday, grossly under reported money they made while working for the postal service, so they could collect money for unemployment.

“Example, day of my report on the computer, on the phone, that they made a hundred dollars in the past week when actually the wage report from the computer says they made a thousand dollars, reporting 100 they’re getting those benefits that they wouldn’t of been getting if they reported the thousand dollar,” said Pillsbury.

After court they didn’t have much at all to say about the crimes they are accused of, some saying “no comment.”

But Marcia Pillsbury, with the unemployment fraud unit, says other postal workers have been flooding the fraud unit trying speak up and pay back money before they end up tracked down.

“Through the year they call DOL to say ‘hey I think I may have gotten too much money, I want to pay it back.’ The good thing and that’s apparently something the Department of Labor has seen since these arrest were made,” said Pillsbury.

As for these seven, it’s too early to tell but authorities say they will have to pay back all of the money.

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