Ex-RI DLT Worker Sentenced to Prison for Conspiracy, Theft of Government Funds & Fraud

Monday, April 03, 2017


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A former Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) employee was sentenced to federal prison for conspiracy, theft of government funds, and computer fraud on Monday. 

Ambulai Sheku, 37, a former Senior Employment Interviewer at the DLT, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for a scheme which resulted in a loss to the DLT of approximately $508,691, of which approximately $350,606 were federal funds.

“The evidence we found in February 2015 identifying possible wrongdoing in Unemployment Insurance claims handled by Ambulai Sheku hit us hard. We referred the case to the Rhode Island State Police immediately and fired him quickly. Although today Sheku has received a much-warranted jail sentence for his crimes, his brazen and illegal manipulation of procedures caused DLT to reassess and tighten all security measures that were in place in the call center, especially those related to claims filing and payment procedures," said DLT Director Scott Jensen. 

"Sheku’s crimes were a selfish betrayal of our customers — the claimants who rely on benefits and the 33,000 Rhode Island employers that pay for UI — of the public, and of us, his DLT teammates, peers, and supervisors. DLT will continue to be vigilant in protecting the integrity of this vital safety net program," said Jensen. 

The Investigation

At the time of his guilty plea, Sheku admitted that between June 2009 and February 2015, he used his authorized access to DLT computers and computer files to obtain unemployment benefits for himself and others to which they were not entitled. 

As part of the scheme Sheku changed the mailing addresses of legitimate unemployment insurance beneficiaries, thus causing banks to mail unemployment insurance benefits to individuals not entitled to receive them; without authorization, extended the expiration of benefits for members of the conspiracy; caused fraudulent claims, including claims by individuals who were employed and thus ineligible for unemployment benefits, to be approved and dispersed; increased the balance of unemployment insurance benefits; and fraudulently removed blocks or “stops” on benefit payments, thus allowing coconspirators to continue receiving benefits to which they were not entitled.

Sheku’s sentence is announced by Acting United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch; Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; and Michael C. Mikulka, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Region of the Department of Labor - Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.


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