Fired postal worker admits to stealing unemployment insurance benefits

A former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employee today admitted that he conspired to fraudulently obtain unemployment insurance benefits.

Ross Clayton, 31, of Irvington, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Julien X. Neals to an information charging him with conspiring to commit wire fraud.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020.

The CARES Act created a new temporary federal unemployment insurance program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provided unemployment insurance benefits for individuals who were not eligible for other types of unemployment (the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers).

The CARES Act also created a new temporary 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.

Clayton was a USPS employee who took unemployment insurance benefits-related mail, including debit cards, from a post office location in New Jersey and used that mail to obtain unemployment insurance benefits to which he was not entitled.

Clayton was fired after being caught stealing mail.

The charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross profits to Stokes or twice the gross loss suffered by the victims.

Clayton is represented by Robert M. Perry, a Mount Holly attorney who served as an assistant prosecutor in Burlington and Camden counties for over a decade before going into private practice in May, 2015.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7, 2022.

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