Two Men Plead to Unemployment Insurance Benefit Fraud

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that two individuals pleaded nolo contendere yesterday to unemployment insurance benefit fraud with court-ordered restitution in excess of $34,000.

«To date in calendar year 2016, we have successfully prosecuted 20 cases of unemployment insurance benefit fraud with court-ordered restitution of more than $240,000,» said Attorney General Kilmartin. «I am extremely proud of the work we are doing in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training and the State Police to investigate and prosecute those who try to get away with defrauding our unemployment system. These efforts continue to pay dividends in restoring the integrity of the system and the financial health of the unemployment insurance trust fund.»

Edward Cicciu (age 46), of Fall River, MA, pleaded nolo contendere yesterday before Superior Court Magistrate Patrick Burke to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses for collecting $15,444 in unemployment insurance benefits while he was employed. Under the terms of the plea, Cicciu was sentenced to five years suspended with probation and ordered to pay restitution at a rate of no less than $266 per month.

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove that on diverse dates between February 22, 2014 and August 21, 2014, Cicciu failed to accurately report his weekly earnings to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RI DLT) when he reported his wages to RI DLT via the Internet to authorize his unemployment insurance benefits. While Cicciu was collecting unemployment insurance benefits, he was working for Tasca Automotive Group in Cranston, North End Motors Inc. of Brockton, MA, and Bristol Toyota in Bristol.

David Bassett (age 50), of Johnston, RI, also pleaded nolo contendere before Magistrate Burke to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses for collecting $18,770 in unemployment insurance benefits while he was employed. The case was filed for one year in consideration that Bassett paid full restitution at the time of the plea.

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to provide that on diverse dates between December 1, 2007 and March 31, 2012, Bassett failed to accurately report his weekly earnings to RI DLT when he called in to the RI DLT Teleserve voice response system to authorize his unemployment insurance benefits. While Bassett was collecting unemployment insurance benefits, he was working for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 99 in Cranston.

The cases were initiated by RI DLT fraud investigators and then referred to the Rhode Island State Police where the investigations were led by Investigator Michael Douglas. Special Assistant Attorney General Carole L. McLaughlin prosecuted the cases on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.

The Office of Attorney General is assigned a prosecutor devoted exclusively to prosecuting fraud cases referred by the RI DLT involving unemployment insurance benefits fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, prevailing wage violations, and labor standards violations. The prosecutor in this position is solely responsible for screening, charging, prosecuting, tracking, and reporting case results to RI DLT and the Office of Attorney General.