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Locals Nabbed In Scam

A recent joint investigation between Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and the New York State Department of Labor has led to criminal charges against 17 Long Islanders — including two from the Massapequas — accused of stealing approximately $270,000 in unemployment insurance benefits from New York taxpayers.

Maryann Brachfeld, 47, of Massapequa Park, and Robert Kennedy, 52, of Massapequa, as well as 15 other local residents, were all found to have failed to report employment as required by Department of Labor regulations, thereby fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits. The 17 defendants were arrested over the past month and are all charged with a top count of third-degree grand larceny, which includes a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

The defendants were investigated by the Department of Labor’s Office of Special Investigations, which then referred the cases to district attorney Rice’s office for evaluation and, where appropriate, arrest and prosecution.

“Unemployment insurance is meant to help honest workers get through hard times while they look for jobs, but these defendants are charged with abusing that trust and assistance by cheating the system,” Rice said. “Thankfully the Department of Labor caught the scams and we’ll work together to prosecute these cases and return fairness to New York taxpayers.”

Brachfeld collected approximately $15,998 in unemployment insurance benefits while allegedly unemployed between Oct. 20, 2010 and Jan. 1, 2012. Kennedy is accused of collecting approximately $14,620 in insurance benefits while allegedly unemployed between July 19, 2009 and March 7, 2010.

Other Long Islanders accused in this case include Drew Himmel, 55, West Hempstead; Kevin Thomas, 50, and Carmerose Julien, 36, both of Hempstead; Terry McCrimmon, 48, Alejandrino Ortiz, 45, and

Tiffany Pettway, 29, all of Westbury; Alfred Lombardi, 37, Garden City; Lachelle Holston, 47, Roosevelt; Janiva Jones, 28, Baldwin; Matthew O’Leary, 48, Patchogue; Christopher Ray, 44, Freeport; Sonia Ramirez, 57, Elmont; Steven Trakis, 31, Long Beach; and Neal Rivera, 49, and Steven Soto, 49, both of Valley Stream.

Assistant District Attorney William Jorgenson is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau Chief Marshall Trager of Rice’s office.