ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A former New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) employee has been indicted for allegedly fraudulently receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wendell Giles, 51, of Albany, conspired with another former employee to get the benefits, which included federally funded pandemic-relief benefits.
The indictment alleges that from about July 2020 through August 2021, Giles and his co-conspirator Carl DiVeglia III, 33, of Albany, started fraudulent unemployment insurance applications in the names of other people. The indictment alleges that they also abused their NYSDOL computer systems access to release benefits payments on the false claims.
Giles pleaded not guilty to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges and was released with conditions. DiVeglia waived indictment and pleaded guilty on April 13 to the same charges. As part of DiVeglia’s guilty plea, he admitted responsibility for over $1.6 million in losses to NYSDOL and to personally getting about $225,000 in fraud proceeds.
DOJ said the mail fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory term of 2 years in prison.
“As alleged, Wendell Giles breached the public’s trust by taking money from government programs designed to help out-of-work New Yorkers during a global pandemic,” said United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman. “The integrity of government benefits programs depends on the honesty of the people who help to administer them. We continue to prioritize COVID fraud prosecutions to maintain public confidence in these programs and to hold accountable those who have abused the system.”