A Fort Greene woman was among 15 employees who have been accused of receiving unemployment benefits from the state while working for the city.
Orquidia Wade, 30, an employee of the city Department of Information Technology, was arrested this week on charges of stealing unemployment benefits, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said.
Prosecutors accuse Wade of collecting $14,432 in jobless claims covering 45 weeks when, in fact, she was employed, according to Vance.
A total of 15 city residents were netted in the bust and charged Tuesday with grand larceny for allegedly stealing a combined $80,000, the DA said. If convicted, they could each face up to seven years in prison.
“In this economy, unemployment benefits are essential to the families of New Yorkers who have been laid off or find themselves in between jobs,” Vance said. “By fraudulently accepting unemployment benefits while working for the city of New York, these defendants violated the public trust.”
Another Brooklyn resident, Earley Watford, 45, of Crown Heights, allegedly stole $8,506 in benefits by falsely claiming he was unemployed for 34 weeks while working intermittingly for the Department of Parks, the DA said.
Other defendants from Brooklyn include Beverly Atkins, 45, also of Crown Heights, who worked for the Department of Information Technology, and Bed-Stuy resident John McClain, 53, who worked for the Department of Sanitation.
Tonia Walker, 33, a resident of Bed-Stuy who worked for the Department of Social Services, was also charged.
Each of the defendants is accused of receiving benefits from the state’s Department of Labor while being employed by various city agencies.
For individuals to receive unemployment benefits, they must certify that they are able to be employed but are currently unemployed. To continue to be paid, they must recertify on a weekly basis by phone or online that they are not working.
Payments from the state are deposited directly into the claimants' bank accounts.
The defendants arrested in the bust are alleged to have falsely certified that they were not working or lied about the number of days they had worked, the DA said.
“Falsely claiming unemployment while collecting a city salary is a crime that saps the city’s limited resources, especially during these tough economic times,” said city Department of Investigation commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.
Among those charged from Queens were Calvin Ward, 39, of Floral Park, and Arthur Wanner, a South Ozone Park resident who is employed by the city Department of Parks and Recreation.
Manhattan residents include William Lennon, 51, John Black, 54, and Esther Camacho, 55.
Bronx residents arrested in the bust were Joyce Benson, 46, Sandra Diaz, 39, Delores Graham, 55, and Anthony Hall, 25.
One Staten Island denizen, Margaret Scalisce, 62, was also charged.
Paul Leonard contributed reporting.