Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Vladimir Catano (age 35), of Johnston, RI, pleaded nolo contendere today before Superior Court Magistrate Patrick Burke 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 for collecting nearly $40,000 of unemployment insurance benefits of which 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.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove that on diverse dates 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 Catano was collecting unemployment benefits, he was working for General Cable Industries, LLC in Lincoln, RI.
"Despite what many may think, unemployment insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. It's our business community and those who legitimately need unemployment insurance that are the victims. And, we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who think they can defraud the system without any consequences," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
In 2016, the State has successfully prosecuted 32 individuals for unemployment insurance benefit fraud, with court-ordered restitution of approximately $420,000.
The case was initiated by RI DLT fraud investigators and then referred to the Rhode Island State Police where the investigation was led by Investigator Michael Douglas. Special Assistant Attorney General Carole L. McLaughlin prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.
The Office of Attorney General is assigned a prosecutor devoted exclusively to prosecuting fraud cases referred by the RI DLT involving unemployment insurance benefits fraud, workers' compensation fraud, prevailing wage violations, and labor standards violations. The prosecutor in this position is solely responsible for screening, charging, prosecuting, tracking, and reporting case results to RI DLT and the Office of Attorney General.