SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — Eighteen people accused of stealing more than $300,000 from the state and taxpayers were arraigned Friday as part of an unemployment fraud sweep conducted by three Rhode Island agencies.
Rhode Island State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, and Department of Labor & Training Director Charlie Fogarty held a joint news conference Friday to announce the arrests.
“These are individuals that are notified that they’re committing fraud and that they have to pay this money back, and if they don’t – then the criminal process starts,” said Col. O’Donnell.
Three women and 15 men were charged, with ages ranging from 27 to 57 years old. Two of the suspects are living out of state, with one man with a Connecticut address allegedly stealing the most – nearly $40,000 in benefits.
The state’s top lawyer said in a year, courts have already ordered more than $280,000 in restitution.
“We do have a significant problem,” Kilmartin stated. “The state of Rhode Island is taking it seriously. We’re doing the investigation, we’re doing the prosecution, and at the end of the day, the taxpayers will be the winners.”
The potential prison sentence for unemployment fraud is up to ten years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. State police said further arrests are expected in the near future.