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Providence Man Pleads to Fraudulently Obtaining more than $73,000 in Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Derek O'Connor (age 49), of Providence, pleaded nolo contendere yesterday before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses and one count of fraudulent access to a computer for collecting more than $73,000 in unemployment insurance benefits while he was working. Under the terms of the plea, O'Connor was sentenced to 30 days to serve followed by seven years and 11 months suspended with probation. In addition, O'Connor was ordered to pay $73,459 in restitution at minimum monthly payments of $150.

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove that between on various dates between January 1, 2009 and December 23, 2013, O'Connor failed to accurately report his weekly earnings to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) when he called in to the RIDLT Teleserve voice response system to authorize his weekly unemployment benefits. While O'Connor was collecting unemployment insurance benefits he was working for the International Longshoreman's Association (ILA) Locals 1329 and 2001 loading and unloading ships at the Ports of Providence and Quonset. The State was also prepared to prove that on dates between November 10, 2013 and December 23, 2013, O'Connor accessed a computer system for the purpose of obtaining money by means of false pretenses.

"This investigation was truly collaborative with both state and federal agencies working to uncover the defendant's illegal actions, resulting in the largest unemployment fraud case we have successfully prosecuted," said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. In 2017, the State has secured $370,157 in court-ordered restitution from defendants convicted of unemployment insurance fraud.

The case was initiated the RIDLT and investigated by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, and Corporal Kevin Kojoian of the Rhode Island State Police. Special Assistant Attorney General Carole 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.

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