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April 27, 2013

Postal worker convicted of unemployment fraud

PLATTSBURGH — A local U.S. Postal Service employee was convicted of stealing $26,218 in unemployment benefits.

Of seven New Yorkers recently found guilty of the crime, Erin Gagnon, 37, of Plattsburgh stole the most money, according to a press release from the New York State Department of Labor.

Gagnon was convicted of false statement to obtain unemployment compensation for federal service; she illegally took the benefits while employed by the Postal Service between 2009 and 2012.

“Unemployment benefits are meant to provide crucial financial assistance to workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own,” U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said in the release. 

“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to stop fraudulent schemes such as these, which ultimately hurt the American public.” 

An investigation by the State Department of Labor’s Office of Special Investigations Major Case Unit led to the arrests.

The unit compared federal wage data to identify the offenders, the Department of Labor said in the release.

Then the unit teamed up with the U.S. Attorney’s Office North District and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Labor to analyze the Postal Service’s payroll and conduct interviews.

The American Recovery Reinvestment Act stimulus package paid for some of the stolen insurance benefits, the release said.

New York state’s unemployment insurance system is one of the largest in the country, the Labor Department said.

In 2012, it paid out nearly $7.1 billion in unemployment insurance benefits to 1.13 million people.

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.com

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