BOSTON — A former New Bedford resident pleaded guilty yesterday to making false pandemic unemployment claims through his wife, who worked for the state's Department of Unemployment Assistance, while incarcerated.

Arthur Pacheco, 47, previously of New Bedford, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston on Thursday to two counts of wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Court documents show that Pacheco's wife Tiffany — who is set to plead guilty to related charges on Aug. 30 — was hired by the Massachusetts DUA in April 2020, shortly after being released from federal prison following a conviction for aggravated identity theft.

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Tiffany allegedly misused her position at DUA to submit fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims information on behalf of herself and her husband, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Arthur was incarcerated in Texas until Sept. 2020, and thus ineligible for the benefits.

Following his release, he placed three calls to the department regarding an appeal of his claim.

During the calls he lied about the timing of his incarceration, stating at one point that he had only been incarcerated for about one month.

He also said that he could provide an employment letter to help with his claim — but the letter received by the department, supposedly from a Massachusetts retailer showing they had rescinded a job offer due to COVID, was a forgery.

The retailer did not extend any job offer to Arthur in January 2020. He was incarcerated in Texas at the time.

Arthur was arrested and charged in December 2020 with his wife Tiffany.

He faces up to 20 years in prison with three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

He will be sentenced on Nov. 18.

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