A Secaucus woman has been indicted for allegedly receiving unemployment benefits while working for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Brianna Larkins, 34, of Secaucus, was indicted on a charge of third-degree theft by deception for allegedly stealing $19,659 in unemployment insurance benefits by filing an unemployment claim in NJ while being employed full time by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, NY.
“We’re working hard to stop criminals from illegally siphoning money from New Jersey’s employment insurance benefits,” Platkin said in a statement.
“These are crimes against the taxpayers who fund the benefits, and against honest New Jersey workers who count on these benefits to sustain them financially when their jobs are lost through no fault of their own or when they suffer injuries at work.”
The cases stem from an ongoing initiative in which the AG’s Office and NJDOL are aggressively investigating crimes that siphon money from taxpayer-funded employment benefit funds.
The state grand jury indictments were secured by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau as a result of joint investigations with NJDOL.
“These critical funds are available to help the workers of our state in their time of need,” added Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.
“These indictments should serve as a reminder that we, along with our partners in the Attorney General’s Office, will work together to ensure that unemployment benefits are available to those entitled to them, and those employers who fail to procure Workers’ Compensation coverage to protect workers injured on the job will be held accountable.”
According the allegations against Hockenberry, on February 26th, 2018, an employee of Rick Hockenberry Landscaping, was injured during the course of his employment.
On May 4th, 2018, the victim filed a Workers’ Compensation claim petition. During the course of the Workers’ Compensation case, it was discovered that Hockenberry failed to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage, as required by law, at the time of the accident.
According to the allegations against Larkins, she illegally collected unemployment benefits in New Jersey while being employed full time in New York.
Had the New Jersey Department of Labor been aware of Larkins’ full-time employment, which she allegedly intentionally failed to disclose, she would have been ineligible for unemployment benefits.
Larkins collected benefits for the claim period beginning on March 20, 2020 through December 5, 2020. Subpoenaed records confirm that throughout the claim period, Larkins was employed full- time in New York.
“The defendants in these cases allegedly stole thousands of dollars in benefits from the funds that serve as a vital financial safety net for New Jersey workers and their families,” noted Division of Criminal Justice Director Lyndsay Ruotolo.
“We are putting offenders on notice that this type of unlawful conduct will be criminally prosecuted through our strong partnership with the New Jersey Department of Labor.”
Platkin and Asaro-Angelo urged members of the public and employers to report cases of suspected fraud by visiting the NJDOL online portal or calling the NJDOL fraud hotline at (609) 777-4304.
Platkin thanked the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development for their referrals and valuable assistance, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.