(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Charges have been filed against eight City of Philadelphia employees related to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) made available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a news release from Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office, eight individuals allegedly conspired to illegally obtain PUA funds in excess of $300,000.
“These arrests are an important reminder that falsely applying for unemployment benefits is a serious crime,” Shapiro said. “These individuals took money away from taxpayers, and we will fight to get those funds repaid. I commend the City of Philadelphia for investigating this fraud and I encourage others to do the same.”
The allegations claim the eight defendants fraudulently applied for the benefits between February 2020 through September 2020, claiming their employment had ended due to the pandemic. Not so, prosecutors allege — all eight were employed by the city. Each individual had received some $20,000 to $60,000 in benefits.
To date, the Attorney General has charged 63 people across the commonwealth for fraudulent PUA applications.
“If you made some extra cash during the pandemic by fraudulently applying for PUA benefits — turn yourself in and get on a payment plan to repay the taxpayer money stolen. Do the right thing, or potentially face criminal charges,” Shapiro said. “Don’t wait for us to knock on your door.”
The Department of Labor & Industry has a fraud hotline, (800) 692-7469, and fraud can be reported (or self-reported) online.
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All eight defendants from the City of Philadelphia have been charged with theft by deception, receiving stolen property, and tampering with public records.