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Unemployment is going to be the least concern for two Springfield Gardens residents who allegedly conned the state into awarding them over $60,000, according to the district attorney’s office.

Tasham Terrell Coleman and Nakia Bouyer are accused of collecting unemployment insurance benefits between May and December of 2012 by establishing a company with a dozen “ghost” employees, including Coleman and Bouyer and victims of identity theft. The company also allegedly reported false wages to tax authorities, and then used the stolen identities to file claims on behalf of their “employees” for fraudulent unemployment benefits.

“The defendants’ alleged actions erode a vital workplace protection that was created for the benefit of all workers,” said District Attorney Richard Brown. “In today’s tough economic climate, such benefits are a vital lifeline for many New Yorkers.”

Coleman and Bouyer’s “company,” Coleman Development Corporation, was first targeted in July 2012 when the Department of Labor’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) identified “unusual activity” on the group’s filed claims. The investigation discovered that Bouyer also allegedly stole nearly $4,000 in her own unemployment benefits, as she returned to work with Aramark Corporation.

“Those who falsely apply for and receive unemployment benefits cheat legitimately unemployed workers and increase insurance tax rates paid by employers,” said Brown.

Coleman and Bouyer were charged with grand larceny in the second degree, two counts of identity theft in the first degree and 10 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. Bouyer was also charged separately with grand larceny in the third degree. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison.

 

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