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Michigan man gets 2 1/2 years for cheating Massachusetts, other states out of Covid-19 relief funds

A man whose lawyer says he "reached to dark corners of the Internet" when the pandemic hit and he lost his good paying job at Chrysler was sentenced yesterday to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to repay the $269,465 he got from 12 different states by using other people's IDs and bogus company information to get pandemic unemployment insurance and payroll help, the US Attorney's office in Boston reports.

Devin Smith, 31, had pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in March.

Smith, who was arrested in January, submitted 12 Massachusetts unemployment claims under the names of various Massachusetts medical professional in March and April of 2020, using his Michigan address for payment via Bank of America debit cards. Then, on Sept. 13, 2020, he submitted his first fraudulent pandemic unemployment assistance claim under his own name - using a fake Massachusetts address, but a Michigan banks for payment.

Massachusetts help start the federal investigation into Smith; DUA flagged some of his accounts as suspicious and sent the information - including an IP address used to create the accounts - to the federal Department of Labor.

In a sentencing memorandum to US District Court Judge Richard Stearns, Smith's attorney asked for leniency and a two-year sentence. Smith is a good man, a family man with two children, who worked himself up from a childhood watching his father recover from getting shot in front of him to go to college and get a good job at Chrysler, only to lose that job at the start of the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit, Mr. Smith found himself unemployed. With little income or savings to fall back upon, he quickly found himself in desperate financial circumstances. Foolishly, for guidance, he reached to dark corners of the Internet where scammers provided step-by-step directions on how unemployment programs and
pandemic relief funds could be taken advantage of. In a personal failing that Mr. Smith acknowledges and profoundly regrets, he listened.

The prosecutor in the case, however, argued for a sentence of at least three years. According to an affidavit by a Department of Labor investigator on the case, Smith used the money he brought in on more than just keeping his family fed: He also used it for $700 bottles of liquor and $300 pairs of shoes.

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...if he needed to steal over a quarter of a mil to make up for its loss.

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and he wants leniency; That's a joke, right?

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