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New York State Department of Labor

State Labor Department Announces Arrest of Marine on Unemployment Insurance Fraud Charges

Stole Identities of Fellow Servicemen to Obtain Fraudulent Benefits

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Albany, NY (February 06, 2015) -

Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario J. Musolino announced today that Marine Reservist Dequenton Belgrave, 24, was arrested in his home borough of Brooklyn on February 4th on charges that he stole fellow Marines’ identities and fraudulently obtained Unemployment Insurance benefits.

“I’m shocked, quite frankly, by the crimes Mr. Belgrave has been charged with,” said Acting Commissioner Musolino. “For a member of our military to defraud his home state and betray fellow servicemen is appalling. I applaud our Office of Special Investigations for their continued diligence in tracking down all fraudsters and bringing them to justice, particularly when their crimes are as flagrant as what’s alleged in this case.”

“It is disturbing that this defendant allegedly scammed the system by collecting benefits to which he was not entitled, and should have gone to his fellow Marines who put their lives on the line in defense of our country. Unemployment benefits are a vital lifeline for many New Yorkers, particularly in this tough economic climate,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.”

Investigators say that Mr. Belgrave approached a fellow Marine in 2012 and offered to apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits on that individual’s behalf. Mr. Belgrave allegedly applied for Unemployment Insurance benefits in that person’s name, but funneled the resulting payments via direct deposit into his own personal bank account.

Mr. Belgrave conducted a similar scheme at the expense of two other Marines and is accused of ultimately obtaining $38,233 in fraudulent Unemployment Insurance benefits over the course of 2 years. All the victims said they had been approached by Mr. Belgrave on military bases where he notified them that they were eligible for benefits after discharge. The victims were cheated out of $8,668, $10,244 and $19,321.

Mr. Belgrave faces 111 counts each of three separate offenses: Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument (2nd degree), Offering a False Instrument for Filing (1st Degree) and Falsifying Business Records (1st Degree).

He also faces one count of Grand Larceny (3rd Degree), three counts of Identity Theft (3rd Degree) and three counts of Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification (3rd Degree). The defendant faces up to seven years in state prison.

Acting Commissioner Musolino expressed his thanks for the support provided to the Department of Labor's Office of Special Investigations by investigators from the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the United States Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General.  He also thanked Kings County District Attorney Ken Thompson for his partnership with the Department in the prosecution of the case.

The New York State Department of Labor operates one of the largest Unemployment Insurance systems in the country. In addition to administering the entire system, the Department of Labor is responsible for preventing and stopping fraud and ensuring the integrity of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. When the Trust Fund is forced to pay out because of a fraudulent claim, employers have to pay more -- and that means consumers will pay more as well. It is in everyone's best interest to stop Unemployment Insurance fraud.

The state is a national leader in the prevention and investigation of Unemployment Insurance benefits fraud. In 2012, New York State was selected to create a single Unemployment Insurance National Integrity Center of Excellence by the United States Department of Labor. The Center is identifying, developing and piloting new strategies and tools to combat improper payment and fraud on a national level.

Anyone with information about possible Unemployment Insurance fraud should call the Department of Labor's anonymous toll-free fraud hotline at (888) 598-2077 or visit www.labor.ny.gov/fraud.

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