MA Man Sentenced For Fraudulently Collecting WC Benefits

Boston, MA (CompNewsNetwork) - A Lawrence man pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday to charges he schemed to collect over $14,000 in unemployment benefits and workers' compensation benefits.  Rigoberto Tellez, age 39, pled guilty to charges of Unemployment Fraud (23 counts), Workers' Compensation Fraud, and Larceny over $250 (2 counts).  Following the change of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball sentenced Tellez to two years probation and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $14,398.

Tellez applied for and began receiving unemployment benefits from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWDDUA) in October 2005 while separated from his employer, Dec-Tam Corporation (Dec-Tam).  In November 2005, Tellez was re-hired by Dec-Tam and continued to receive unemployment benefits and failed to disclose his employment status to EOLWDDUA. 

On December, 10, 2005, Tellez was injured in a fall sustained at work.  Tellez applied for and began receiving workers' compensation benefits through his employer's insurer, Commerce and Industry Insurance Company, from December 2005 until May 2006, at which time he was cleared through an independent medical examination (IME) for light duty work.  Dec-Tam offered Tellez employment which met the criteria stated by the IME, which he subsequently refused.  In June 2006, Tellez filed an employee claim with the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA).  The DIA heard the claim in September 2006 and ordered Commerce and Industry Insurance Company to pay Tellez benefits retroactively from June 2006. 

Tellez filed an Employee Earning Report (E.E.R.) in June 2006 stating that he was entitled to workers' compensations benefits and earned no other wages.  During part of this time, Tellez was collecting unemployment benefits in addition to workers' compensation benefits.            

For each of the 23 weeks that Tellez collected unemployment benefits, from November 2005 to April 2006, he notified EOLWDDUA that he was not working, but that he was able to work and was available for work despite collecting disability benefits and claiming to Commerce and Industry Insurance Company that he was unable to work.  The fraudulent activities were initially detected by investigators from the EOLWDDUA.  Tellez was paid unemployment benefits totaling $14,398.

Indictments were returned against Tellez on June 12, 2008.  Tellez was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on July 23, 2008, at which time he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on his own personal recognizance.  Yesterday, Tellez entered a change of plea in Suffolk Superior Court and was sentenced.

Assistant Attorney General Jeremy Eisemann of Attorney General Martha Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division prosecuted this case.  The Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts assisted in the case.

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