Former state worker pleads guilty to unemployment fraud

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BOSTON (AP) — A former employee of the Massachusetts state agency that oversees unemployment insurance benefits has pleaded guilty to using her position to fraudulently try to obtain federal COVID-19 relief funds for herself and her husband, federal prosecutors said.

Tiffany Pacheco, 35, who also goes by Tiffany Tavery, pleaded guilty Monday to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.

Her husband, Arthur Pacheco, pleaded guilty in July.

Tiffany Pacheco was hired by the state Department of Unemployment Assistance in April 2020 shortly after her release from prison where she had been serving time for identity theft, prosecutors said.

In June 2020, she submitted Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims reflecting that she and her husband had an income of $0 in 2019 and no dependents. A month later, after obtaining access to the state agency’s computer system, she changed her 2019 income to $240,000 and their dependants to seven to increase their PUA benefits, prosecutors said.

A search of the couple’s New Bedford home uncovered equipment and items used to make fake IDs, including a laminator, blank ID cards, and hologram overlays.

Tiffany Pacheco faces sentencing on Jan. 12. Arthur Pacheco is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18.

Categories: Massachusetts, News, Regional News