US Attorney: Perth Amboy man admits to illegally obtaining COVID-19 unemployment benefits
A Middlesex County man has admitted to conspiring to illegally obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 unemployment benefits.
Perth Amboy resident Christopher Valerio, 33, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger says that Valerio’s conspirator, 42-year-old Yanira Abreu, pleaded guilty on Sept. 12 to other charges related to the case. A third conspirator, 35-year-old Jose Tavares, has his case pending.
Sellinger says that from July 2020 until February 2021, Valerio, Abreu and others submitted false and fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance benefits to the New York Department of Labor through fictitious online profiles that they created. The U.S. attorney says that Valerio and his conspirators obtained debit cars totaling $444,738, “which they used for personal gain.”
Valerio and Abreu face up to 20 years in person and a fine of up to $250,000 when they are sentenced on March 19, 2024.