New Bedford Man Sentenced for Benefits Fraud Scheme
BOSTON — A former New Bedford resident was sentenced Thursday after he illegally claimed pandemic unemployment relief funds while incarcerated through his wife, who worked for the state's benefits department.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said 47-year-old Arthur Pacheco will spend one year in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud in July.
Pacheco was indicted in January along with his wife, former Department of Unemployment Assistance worker Tiffany Pacheco, who is set for sentencing in January 2022.
In April 2020, Tiffany Pacheco was hired by the Massachusetts department shortly after her release from federal prison on an aggravated identity theft conviction.
While working there, she misused her position to fraudulently claim benefits on behalf of herself and Arthur, who was incarcerated in Texas at the time.
Specifically, Tiffany used her access to the department's computer system to change details in the couple's pandemic unemployment assistance claims to receive more in benefits.
She increased their listed 2019 income from $0 to $240,000 and the number of their dependents from none to seven, and then falsely verified the details using her system access.
The couple also falsely denied that Arthur had been incarcerated for months while claiming the benefits.
Authorities said a search of the couple's New Bedford apartment uncovered various identity fraud tools, including an ID laminator, 100 blank ID cards, 68 hologram overlays, 150 card lamination sheets and 649 sheets of blank checks.
Law enforcement also seized around $17,000 in cash and a notebook with personal identifying information for multiple people.
A driver’s license recovered during the search also matched the name of a victim Tiffany Pacheco used to submit another fraudulent unemployment claim, according to the office.
Tiffany Pacheco was fired from the department in September 2020.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force.