De La Cruz, 48, was hired as an admissions agent in 2020 to help the Occupational Safety Department deal with the spate of pandemic unemployment claims.
TACOMA, Wash. — A former Washington State Occupational Safety and Health worker has pleaded guilty to three federal crimes for exploiting his employment for personal gain and fraudulently distributing at least $360,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits, prosecutors said.
Seattle U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in a statement that Reyes De La Cruz, III, of Moses Lake, pleaded guilty to personally enriching himself of at least $130,000 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Wednesday.
De La Cruz, 48, was hired as an admissions agent in 2020 to help the Occupational Safety Department deal with the spate of pandemic unemployment claims. De La Cruz had previously worked for the department from 1996 to 2003.
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From July 2020 to March 2021, De La Cruz used his access to the damage database to cheat the benefits system. At least ten times, De La Cruz accepted bribes in exchange for tech human benefits by making false entries in the damage database. In many cases the person was not entitled to benefits.
He also filed claims using other people’s personal information without authorization and had benefits paid on debit cards mailed to him. The occupational safety department uncovered evidence of the fraud.
De La Cruz remains in federal custody. De La Cruz faces a prison sentence of around six years as part of the defense agreement.
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https://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/washington-state-employee-guilty-pandemic-fraud/281-2974cae2-d606-46df-a309-cbf53b0410d6 Former Washington state employee pleads guilty to pandemic fraud