An Essex County man recently pleaded guilty he conspired to fraudulently obtain more than $700,000 in federal COVID aid.
Jefferson Robert, 31, of Newark, admitted in federal court to conspiring to commit wire fraud, according to a press release from Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig
In court papers, the federal government charged that Robert opened bank accounts with a fraudulent passport in another individual’s name in order to claim Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The PUA unemployment insurance program provided unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) for individuals who are not eligible for other types of unemployment such as the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers. Additionally, the CARES Act created a new temporary federal program that provides an additional $600 weekly benefit to those eligible for PUA and regular UIB.
The Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) administers and manages the regular unemployment and PUA programs in the State of Washington.
Robert admitted he and his conspirators created an application to be made to ESD for UIB in the name of Victim 1. In response, ESD caused UIB to be deposited into one of the fraudulent bank accounts.
20 Years Jail Time
Robert and his conspirators were charged by federal officials as partaking in a number of scams to enrich themselves. Among them were business email scams, including causing a victim to transfer approximately $28,000 into one of the bank accounts; romance scams, including causing a victim to make five deposits into one of the bank accounts totaling approximately $19,000; and fraudulently obtained money from the IRS by causing the IRS to transfer payments in four victims’ names into one of the bank accounts.
Once the fraudulently obtained money was in the bank accounts, Roberts moved the money, including through the purchase of money orders, causing more than $700,000 in losses.
The charge of conspiring to commit wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 15, 2022.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,871,453 in-state, plus an additional 438,677 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,310,130 as of Oct. 8. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,725,442 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 188,660 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,914,102. State officials reported 136,047 have received a third booster shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,326,945 doses (637,716 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,027,976 doses (492,986), Hudson 926,278 doses (446,412), Morris 718,934 doses (344,277), Passaic 638,681 doses (307,529), Sussex 168,835 doses (82,829), and Warren 110,280 doses (53,752).
As of Oct. 8, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,014,968 with 1,661 total new PCR cases. There were 484 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 153,344. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,168,312.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 19 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,773. The state listed probable deaths at 2,797, bringing the overall total to 27,570. State officials noted 20 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 8, Bergen had a total of 122 new confirmed cases and 30 new probable cases, Essex 99 new cases and 17 new probable case, Hudson 65 new cases and 18 new probable cases, Morris 82 new confirmed cases and 21 new probable cases, Passaic 69 new cases and 27 new probable cases, Sussex 40 new cases and 14 new probable cases, and Warren 36 new cases and nine new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,823, followed by Bergen at 2,661, Hudson with 2,153, Passaic at 1,790, Morris at 1,028, Sussex at 252, and Warren County at 227.
In regards to probable deaths reported Oct. 4, Essex has 311, Bergen has 308, Morris has 265, Hudson has 222, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 69 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,541,443 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Sept. 20, 30,267 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 629 COVID-related hospitalizations and 158 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 13-Sept. 19, breakthroughs accounted for 24.8% of all new cases (3,414 of 10,760), 4.2% of new hospilizations (42 of 1,000), and two of the 121 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 7, it increased to 0.90 from 0.89 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 3 was 6.2%; by region, the rate was 4.9% in the North, 7.2% in the Central region and 7.2% in the South.
The state reported 944 patients were hospitalized with 69 of 71 hospitals reporting; by region, there were 277 in the North, 290 in the Central and 377 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 233 are in intensive care units and 118 on ventilators. A total of 121 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, the state has tracked 69 school outbreaks and 379 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 30 outbreaks and 267 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 319 students and 60 teachers in 62 communities across 18 counties.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey as of Oct. 6, Passaic County has two confirmed outbreak with 62 cases, Essex County has four confirmed outbreak with 16 cases, Bergen County has four confirmed outbreak with 25 cases, Morris County has four confirmed outbreaks with 22 cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, and Sussex has three confirmed outbreak with 13 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 160 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,280 of the cases, broken down between 693 residents and 587 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,750 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,776 residents and 23,087 staff, for a total of 56,863.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,570 on Oct. 8. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,974 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.