District Attorney

Posted on: October 5, 2015

Rockville Centre Man Pleads Guilty for Receiving Unemployment Benefits While Working

Joseph Chieffo was arrested in unemployment fraud sweep with eight other defendants

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Rockville Centre man pleaded guilty today for fraudulently receiving $16,042.50 in unemployment benefits, while working as a carpenter for a Suffolk County company.

Joseph Chieffo, 31, pleaded guilty before Nassau County District Court Judge Valerie Alexander to one count of Petit Larceny (an A misdemeanor) and one count of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 7th Degree (an A misdemeanor). He is due back in court for sentencing on December 7. It is anticipated that Chieffo will be sentenced to probation and restitution in the amount of $16,042.50 paid back to the New York State Department of Labor.

Chieffo is one of nine defendants accused of fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits who were arrested by the District Attorney’s Office in July and August. The eight other cases are still pending.

“Unemployment benefits are an important safety net to help people who have lost their jobs, but unfortunately some people try to steal from the state,” Acting DA Singas said. “Defrauding the Department of Labor is an extraordinarily foolish thing to do, because inevitably you will be caught and prosecuted.”

Acting DA Singas said that between March 5, 2012 and March 10, 2013, the defendant received $16,042.50 in unemployment benefits. During that same time Chieffo worked as a carpenter for a Bohemia-based company, earning approximately $41,133.85. The false filings were discovered when the Telephone Call Center – a unit of the New York State Department of Labor – conducted a cross match of Chieffo’s wage report and his benefit payments, indicating that he was employed while collecting benefits and claiming to be unemployed. When Chieffo was arrested he was also found in possession of a controlled substance.

The cases were initially referred to the District Attorney’s Office by the State Department of Labor, which is assisting the office in the prosecutions.

Assistant District Attorney April Montgomery of Acting DA Singas’ Economic Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case. Chieffo is represented by The Legal Aid Society.

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