Gloucester County man sent to prison for $400,000 pandemic benefit scam

A Gloucester County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 21 months in prison for illegally obtaining more than $400,000 of unemployment insurance benefits in the kind of scheme predicted by Lisa McCormick.

The caper matches the kind of cheating predicted by McCormick, a Democratic Congressional challenger who at the time said her opponent voted to give Republican President Donald Trump a $6 trillion slush fund that will benefit his re-election more than it will help the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Willie Carter, 24, of Paulsboro, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Reneé Marie Bumb to an information charging him with wire fraud.

Judge Bumb imposed the sentence in Camden federal court on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, in documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Carter submitted fraudulent unemployment insurance benefit applications to various states from July 2020 to October 2020.

In March 2020, the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided new and expanded benefits to Americans who were out of work for reasons related to the pandemic.

The unemployment benefit payments were administered by states although much of the funding came from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The CARES Act is 880 pages of outrage and corruption, that gave Republican President Donald Trump a $6 trillion slush fund without adequate oversight or guidance to prevent abuses,” said Lisa McCormick. “Instead of stabilizing the economy, it enriches the rich and insults the 99 percent of Americans who follow the rules. This is worse than the TARP bailouts under Bush.”

“We need to outlaw bribery in all its forms, but the Congress should have known better than to entrust money in the hands of President Donald Trump,” said Lisa McCormick. “Just as they did when President George Bush rammed through TARP bailouts for Wall Street, Congress let 99 percent of Americans get steamrolled so the rich could collect free government money. This typifies the incompetence and cowardice that I am prepared to fight against.”

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance specifically covered self-employed workers, gig workers, independent contractors, and other people who would not usually qualify for unemployment insurance or had exhausted other those benefits.

These states provided, and Carter falsely obtained, more than $400,000 in unemployment insurance benefits.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Bumb sentenced Carter to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $469,582.

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