NEWARK, NJ — A former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employee today admitted fraudulently obtaining unemployment insurance benefits, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said.
Khaori Monroe, 29, of Newark, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Julien X. Neals to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law. The CARES Act created a new temporary federal unemployment insurance program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provided unemployment insurance benefits to people who were not eligible for other types of unemployment (the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers). The CARES Act also created a temporary new federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (FPUC) that provided an additional $600 weekly benefit to those eligible for PUA and regular unemployment insurance benefits.
Monroe was employed as a postman with the USPS. He and others stole credit/debit cards containing unemployment insurance benefits from a location in New Jersey. Monroe and others then activated the cards and used them to raise over $40,000.
The wire fraud charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, double Monroe’s gross profit or double the gross loss suffered by the victims, whichever is higher. Sentencing is scheduled for September 14, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents in the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone in Manhattan; and postal inspectors of the United States Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Damon Wood, Philadelphia Division, the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrime Unit in Newark.