A U.S. District Court judge has has sentenced a Setauket man to 13 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to stealing more than $192,000 in unemployment insurance benefits, state labor officials said Sunday.
Paul Pappas, 55, has also been ordered to spend time in a mental health program, pay back the money plus fines by Aug. 14, 2014, and submit to three years of federal supervision after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Peter Rivera, commissioner of the state Department of Labor, said Pappas created fictitious businesses in New York, Vermont and Florida, then used the identities of his friends and family members to collect unemployment benefits in all three states.
“Let this be a message to anyone who has collected unemployment insurance benefits to which they are not entitled: you will be caught and prosecuted,” Rivera said in a statement. “New York State uses highly advanced technology to monitor for fraud. These systems are designed to flag suspicious activity and help ensure criminals are caught.”
Pappas was being investigated by both the state's Department of Labor’s Major Case Unit and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
So far in 2013, the state has found 14,689 people who wrongly claimed more than $42 in unemployment benefits.