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New York State Department of Labor

New York State Department of Labor Announces Arrest of Federal Correctional Officer on UI Fraud Charges

Used a U.S. Department of Justice Computer to Illegally Claim Benefits

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Albany, NY (June 10, 2016) -

The New York State Department of Labor announced today that Andrew Kessler of Woodside, Queens was arrested and charged with one count of Theft of Government Funds, a federal felony offense. Mr. Kessler is alleged to have stolen nearly $14,000 in Unemployment Insurance benefits.

“The New York State Department of Labor has no tolerance for the theft of funds meant for those in need,” said Acting State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “We are always working to identify and stop fraud and I applaud the Department’s Office of Special Investigations for their work in bringing this individual to justice.”

Between September 2012 and August 2013, Mr. Kessler certified for and received $13,961 in Unemployment Insurance benefits. After an investigation by the Department of Labor, it was discovered that Mr. Kessler was, in fact, employed full-time as a federal correctional officer at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. What’s more, he was found to have used a Department of Justice computer while working at the jail to file weekly claims for his benefits.

The investigation was conducted with the assistance and cooperation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.

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 protecting 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.

Department of Labor Office of Special Investigations staff monitors several data sources and utilizes various analytical techniques to determine when fraud occurs. On the whole, only a very small percentage of individuals who collect benefits do so illegally. Those who do attempt to defraud the system are generally detected quickly. Once suspected fraud is detected, cases are referred to local law enforcement.

New York State is a national leader in the prevention and investigation of Unemployment Insurance 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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