Two Queens men were among 15 public employees who have been accused of receiving unemployment benefits from the state while working for the city.
Calvin Ward, 39, a Floral Park resident who works for the city Department of Transportation, and Arthur Wanner, a South Ozone Park resident who is employed by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, were both arrested this week on charges of stealing unemployment benefits, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said.
A total 15 city residents were netted in the bust and charged Tuesday with grand larceny for allegedly stealing a combined $80,000, the DA said. If convicted, they could each face up to seven years in prison.
“In this economy, unemployment benefits are essential to the families of New Yorkers who have been laid off or find themselves in between jobs,” Vance said. “By fraudulently accepting unemployment benefits while working for the city of New York, these defendants violated the public trust.”
Each of the defendants is accused of receiving benefits from the state’s Department of Labor while being employed by various city agencies.
For individuals to receive unemployment benefits, they must certify that they are able to be employed but are currently unemployed. To continue to be paid, they must recertify on a weekly basis by phone or online that they are not working.
Payments from the state are deposited directly into the claimants' bank accounts.
Each defendant arrested in the bust are alleged to have falsely certified that they were not working or lied about the number of days they had worked, the DA said.
“Falsely claiming unemployment while collecting a city salary is a crime that saps the city’s limited resources, especially during these tough economic times,” City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said.
The defendants worked for a number of city agencies, including the departments of Parks, Human Resources Administration, Social Services and Transportation as well as the New York Police Department.
Several of the defendants hail from Brooklyn, including Orquidia Wade, 30, who is accused of collecting $14,432 in unemployment benefits on claims that she did not work for 45 weeks when, in fact, she was employed by the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Vance said.
Another Brooklyn resident, Earley Watford, 45, allegedly stole $8,506 in benefits by falsely claiming he was unemployed for 34 weeks while working intermittingly for the Department of Parks, the DA said.
Other defendants from Brooklyn include Beverly Atkins, 45, who worked for the Department of Information Technology, and John McClain, 53, who worked for the Department of Sanitation.
Brooklyn’s Tonia Walker, 33, who worked for the Department of Social Services, was also charged.
Manhattan residents include William Lennon, 51, John Black, 54, and Esther Camacho, 55.
Bronx residents arrested in the bust were Joyce Benson, 46, Sandra Diaz, 39, Delores Graham, 55, and Anthony Hall, 25.
One Staten Island denizen, Margaret Scalisce, 62, was also charged.