BOSTON (AP) — A woman who worked for the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance and her husband are facing charges they sought to illegally collect unemployment benefits for workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tiffany Pacheco, 35, and Arthur Pacheco, 47, were indicted Thursday in Boston federal court on wire fraud charges, according to U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling's office.
The New Bedford couple has been in custody since their arrest in San Antonio, Texas, in December.
Prosecutors say Tiffany Pacheco was hired by the unemployment agency last April after being released from federal prison for aggravated identity theft.
Prosecutors say she then submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment assistance claim information for herself and her husband, who was incarcerated in Texas until last September.
The couple initially claimed no income or dependents for 2019, but Tiffany Pacheco accessed the benefits system to boost the couple's income to $240,000 and their number of dependents to seven, leading to a higher benefit payout, prosecutors said.
Authorities searching the couple’s New Bedford home found various tools used for identity fraud, such as an ID laminator and blank ID cards, as well as about $17,000 cash and a notebook with personal identifying information for other people.
Tiffany Pacheco was terminated by the department in September.
The federal public defenders office in San Antonio, which represented the couple in their initial appearance, didn't respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.