The penalty for defrauding the State of New Jersey is a steep one – at least that’s what a Monmouth County woman recently found out. Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced on July 11 that NJ resident Jennifer Massimo-Ruiz was sentenced to four years in state prison for defrauding the State of more than $8,800.
According to authorities, the NJ woman sent a fraudulent claim to the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development in an effort to illegally collect state disability funds. The defendant admitted in court that she sent three letters stating that she had cancer. She also confessed to forging the signatures of two doctors in these letters. This prompted the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor to recommend a new plea agreement.
The initial agreement was to sentence her to three years in prison; however, because of her attempt to try and avoid or influence the pending sentence, the plea agreement was bumped up to four years.
Aside from just blatant lying, there are a few other mistakes Ms. Massimo-Ruiz made. First, according to the State’s temporary disability law, a person must have been employed for at least a year in order to qualify for temporary disability benefits. An investigation revealed that Massimo-Ruiz had not been employed at all during the 52 weeks prior to her fraudulent claim submission.
Massimo-Ruiz also lied in her initial claim about her employment, saying that she worked as an office manager from 2008 – 2010 and claiming that she was eligible for temporary benefits after she went out on maternity leave in March of 2010. However, investigators discovered that the company Ruiz said she worked for was owned by her family members.
The moral of this story: don’t lie. Every insurance claim or disability claim is thoroughly investigated by state and federal officials. If you’ve fraudulently made a claim or lied about any vital information in a claim for benefits, there is a good chance you will be caught.
John W. Tumelty has over 30 years of experience defending the rights of NJ residents facing criminal charges. If you or someone you love has gotten into legal trouble, contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty today.