TRUMBULL, Conn. -- A Yonkers woman was sentenced to 18 months in prison Wednesday for defrauding unemployment insurance programs in a “fictitious employer scheme" for an internet business she claimed was based in Trumbull.
Theresa A. Freeman, 65, also faces three years of supervised release after her prison sentence in the decision by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Freeman filed incorporation paperwork with the State of Connecticut for “Tribal Organic Products."
The business was, in fact, a fictitious company that did not engage in any business activity. In December 2012, Freeman's son, Sean E. Montiero, filed a claim with the Connecticut Department of Labor for unemployment insurance benefits, claiming that he was laid off from Tribal Organic Products. Between January 2013 and July 2013, Montiero received approximately $13,474 in unemployment insurance benefits from the State of Connecticut.
The investigation revealed that Freeman also operated similar fictitious employer schemes that defrauded both the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industries and the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security of $16,253 and $14,136, respectively.
Judge Arterton ordered Freeman to pay restitution in the amount of $43,863.
She has been detained since her arrest on May 5, 2016. On Sept. 20, 2016, she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Freeman has a prior federal conviction in the District of South Carolina for mail fraud stemming from similar conduct. In that case, she was found to have committed the same unemployment benefits fraud offense in South Carolina, Connecticut, Hawaii, Florida and New York, and was sentenced to 15 months of imprisonment.
Montiero has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General; Connecticut Department of Labor; Office of the Chief State’s Attorney; Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industries; North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security; and the Yonkers Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Slater.