This week, 15 Rhode Island defendants were charged by way of federal criminal complaints in U.S. District Court with wire fraud and money laundering.
WPRI reports that the state’s top federal prosecutor announced the arrests during a news conference in Providence, accusing the defendants – all Rhode Islanders – of fraudulently filing claims through unemployment insurance programs across 11 states including California. The defendants filed claims for an estimated $578,571, including $126,000 in Rhode Island, according to prosecutors.
At least one defendant was able to “line his pockets” with almost $90,000, according to the investigators.
The charges were unsealed in Rhode Island U.S. District Court Thursday afternoon, and multiple suspects were discovered in part because they took out large sums of money at Twin River Casino.
According to a sworn affidavit filed by R.I. State Police Trooper Courtney Elliott, investigators were notified in August about several “suspicious high-dollar cash advances” made at the Lincoln casino.
Upon further investigation, police said they discovered Tyrone Hazard of Central Falls had made a $9,000 cash advance using a California Employment Development Visa debit card, which is issued through the state of California to provide unemployment insurance, according to the affidavit.
After getting the cash, Hazard left the casino without playing any games, according to the affidavit. Investigators said they later discovered Hazard had previously made two different unemployment insurance claims in California and Massachusetts, according to court documents.
Similarlly, defendant Rashaad Smith Muskelly of Lincoln is accused of taking out two cash advances at Twin River, according to the complaint. Muskelly is accused of filing for unemployment insurance in eight states: Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Texas.