Kind of Guilty

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When a defendant in a criminal prosecution enters a plea of ”nolo contendere,” they are essentially accepting their conviction, but they don’t officially admit guilt. This is usually done to prevent being pursued in a future civil suit for monetary damages. (It’s kind of like saying, ”Yep, I kind of did it, but I’m not exactly admitting to it.”) A Rhode Island man pleaded ”nolo contendere” for participating in an unemployment fraud scheme that allowed him to collect nearly $40,000 he did not deserve.

While pleading ”nolo contendere” does not admit guilt, it has the same effect as pleading guilty. The defendant is still subject to any and all penalties, fines and forfeitures as if they had pleaded guilty. However, the ”nolo contendere’ plea cannot be used to establish negligence, malice, or whether criminal acts were committed at all in future civil proceedings related to the same facts as the original criminal prosecution.

For approximately three-and-a-half years, the state of Rhode Island alleged that the man at the center of today’s ”Fraud of the Day” neglected to report his weekly earnings to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT). (He was required to verify his wages using the agency’s voice response system to authorize the payment of his weekly unemployment benefits.) It turns out that while he was collecting about $45,000 in unemployment benefits, he was also earning wages by working for a local manufacturer of wire and cable solutions.

The 35-year-old man pleaded ”nolo contendere” to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses and one count of fraudulent access to a computer system for the purpose of obtaining money under false or fraudulent pretenses. He was sentenced to 10 years of probation and must pay restitution of $39,972 at a rate of at least $333 per month.

Unemployment fraud does a great deal of damage to government programs set up to serve those who are truly in need. It not only impacts those who legitimately deserve the benefits, but also the business community as well. Congratulations to the RIDLT for stopping this individual from stealing what he did not deserve.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Johnston man pleads to unemployment insurance benefit fraud,” published by the Johnston Sunrise on December 29, 2016.

Vladimir Catano, 35, of Johnston, pleaded nolo contendere to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses and one count of fraudulent access to a computer system for the purpose of obtaining money under false or fraudulent pretenses. He collected nearly $40,000 of unemployment insurance benefits he was not entitled to receive. Under the terms of the plea, Catano was sentenced to 10 years probation and ordered to pay $39,972 in restitution at a rate of no less than $333 per month.

The state alleged that between December 24, 2011 and June 27, 2015, Catano failed to report his weekly earnings to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) when he verified his wages using the RIDLT Teleserve voice response system to authorize his weekly unemployment benefits. While collecting unemployment benefits, Catano was working for General Cable Industries, LLC in Lincoln.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.