Algonquin Bricklayer Faces Federal Charges of Illegally Taking $19,440 in Unemployment Comp

An Algonquin man is one of eleven charged with defrauding the unemployment compensation system, according to the U.S. Attorney’s press release that appears below:

U.S. CHARGES 11 CHICAGO AREA DEFENDANTS WITH FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS TOTALING $255,000

CHICAGO — Eleven Chicago area defendants have been charged separately with fraudulently obtaining thousands of dollars each in unemployment benefits from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), federal law enforcement officials announced today.

In each case, the defendants allegedly lied about their eligibility for benefits, claiming to be unemployed when they were not, and fraudulently obtained benefits ranging from $15,232 to $41,764.  Altogether, the charges allege that IDES was cheated out of more than $255,000.

Five of the defendants were charged with felony mail fraud and six were charged with misdemeanor theft counts in 11 separate criminal informations or grand jury indictments filed late last week in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

According to the charges, each defendant applied for unemployment insurance benefits, certified their continuing eligibility to receive payments, and collected unemployment insurance while gainfully employed in various occupations, including two U.S. Postal Service letter carriers.

In Illinois, unemployment insurance benefits are funded primarily by contributions from employers, with IDES’ administrative costs funded primarily by the federal government.  During periods of high unemployment, the U.S. Treasury also funds unemployment payments.  Several of the cases allege that after February 2009, federal stimulus money was provided under the American  Reinvestment and Recovery Act to expand unemployment insurance benefits.

“The unemployment insurance program is intended to provide financial assistance to workers who are unemployed due to lack of suitable work.  The Office of Inspector General, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to safeguard Department of Labor programs against fraud.  We thank the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General for their efforts in this investigation,”

said James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

Thomas P. Brady,  Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago,  said:

“Unemployment insurance benefits help bridge the gap for workers while they pursue employment opportunities.  We must preserve the available funds for those who are legitimately entitled to benefits, while making sure that others who cheat the system are not allowed to benefit at the expense of those who are honestly deserving.”

Scott Caspall, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, said:

“At a time when unemployed citizens are in desperate need of benefits, it is unfortunate that certain individuals, not to mention Postal Service employees, have allegedly partaken of these benefits.  The Postal Service does not tolerate criminal conduct by its employees and will take appropriate action to investigate and prosecute such behavior.”

The charges were announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  The federal agencies conducted the criminal investigations following referrals of suspected fraud from IDES.

In each case, restitution is mandatory and the felony mail fraud counts carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the misdemeanor theft counts carry a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.  The indictments and information  contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are the details of the Algonquin man’s indictment:

Nicholas G. Boulahanis, 36, of Algonquin, was charged with misdemeanor theft for allegedly fraudulently obtaining approximately $19,440 in unemployment insurance payments that he was not entitled to receive while employed as a bricklayer at various times in 2007 and 2008.  (Assistant U.S. Attorney  Shoba Pillay).


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