WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - Four Springfield residents are facing charges in connection with a scheme to use the personal information of jail inmates and other individuals to steal more than $77,000 from the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, officials said.
The Suffolk County Grand Jury indicted Darnell Harris, 38, Marie Tavernier, 56, Ebony Harris, 36, and Gregory Harris, 39, on March 26 on 13 counts of unemployment fraud, 10 counts of larceny over $1,200, three counts of attempted larceny, one count of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday.
Darnell Harris is currently incarcerated in Plymouth County House of Correction on an unrelated matter.
In May 2020, Darnell Harris began passing personal identifying information of fellow inmates at the Worcester County Jail to Tavernier, Ebony Harris and Gregory Harris for the purpose of stealing public money intended for beneficiaries eligible for the PUA program, according to the AG’s office.
The four suspects allegedly filed 13 false claims for unemployment benefits, defrauding the Department of Unemployment Assistance and collecting $77,457 in benefits.
They used the stolen funds to help post a $100,000 bail to secure Darnell Harris’ release from pretrial detention in the Worcester County Jail, the AG’s office said.
They are slated to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on June 7.
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