Two Branford Residents, Stratford Woman Charged With Larceny, Unemployment Compensation Fraud
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Rocky Hill, CT) - Three people have been arrested in connection with the theft of more than $80,000 in COVID-19-related unemployment assistance.
The arrests of Otis D. Paramore, 43, and Christina DeBiase, 39, of Branford, and Gloria DeBiase, 75, of Stratford, on May 10, 2022 are the result of an investigation by the Statewide Prosecution Bureau in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney following a complaint by the Connecticut Department of Labor.
According to arrest warrant affidavits, Paramore and Christina DeBiase fraudulently collected approximately $68,541 in unemployment benefits by filing false claims under their own names and the names of Paramore’s deceased father and deceased grandparents. Paramore and Christina DeBiase are also accused of assisting Gloria DeBiase in filing false unemployment claims totaling $11,268. In addition, Christina DeBiase defrauded the Connecticut Department of Labor out of a weekly dependent allowance totaling $600.
Paramore and Christina DeBiase are each charged with eleven counts of Unemployment Fraud in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §31-273 (f)(2), four counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §53a-129b, five counts of Identity Theft in the Third Degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §53a-129c and Larceny in the First Degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §53a-122. Gloria DeBiase is charged with Unemployment Fraud in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §31-273 (f)(2) and Larceny in the First Degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §53a-122.
Paramore was released on a promise to appear in court and is scheduled to appear in New Britain Superior Court, G.A. No. 15, on May 24, 2022. Both Christina and Gloria DeBiase were released on promises to appear in court and are scheduled to appear in New Britain Superior Court, G.A. No. 15, on May 19, 2022. The charges are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty.
The Statewide Prosecution Bureau in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office is working with the Connecticut Department of Labor to identify, investigate, and prosecute alleged fraud in the unemployment compensation program. The unemployment fraud prosecution unit, announced on May 18, 2021, also works to return stolen funds to the unemployment system and deter future fraud.
“These arrests are the result of significant collaborative efforts by our two agencies,” Deputy Chief State’s Attorney of Operations Kevin D. Lawlor said. “By working together, both agencies are beginning to hold accountable those who allegedly took advantage of an unemployment benefit system that was overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo said, “The federal pandemic unemployment programs were critical for unemployed workers, but in labor agencies across the country, these programs also triggered a significant increase in criminal activity like identity theft and false claims. This partnership with law enforcement is key to ensuring those who tried to defraud the system are held accountable for their actions and funding is returned to the public coffers.”
In March 2020, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The CARES Act created multiple temporary federal unemployment insurance programs which were administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor. Since March 2020, the labor agency has received more than 1.5 million applications.