Home Washington Press Releases 2009 Maryland Woman Sentenced to 50 Months in Prison for Theft of Public Money and Aggravated Identity Theft...

Maryland Woman Sentenced to 50 Months in Prison for Theft of Public Money and Aggravated Identity Theft

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 23, 2009
  • District of Columbia (202) 514-7566

WASHINGTON—Rhonda Dale Robinson, 44, of Bowie, Maryland, was sentenced today before the Honorable Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for two counts of Aggravated Identity Theft to a period of incarceration of 24 months on each count to run concurrent, and for one count of Theft of Public Money to a period of incarceration of 26 months to run consecutive, following her earlier guilty plea on May 29, 2009, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips; Charles Willoughby, Inspector General of the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General (D.C. OIG); Joseph Persichini, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Washington Field Office; and Gordon S. Heddell, Inspector General of the Office of the Inspector General, United States Department of Labor (DOL). Judge Kennedy also ordered that Robinson pay restitution to the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services in the amount of $77,680.00, and to be placed on supervised release for three years upon completion of her prison sentence.

According to the Statement of Offense filed with the court by the government, Robinson is a citizen of the United States of America and according to Social Security Administration records, she is assigned a social security number that is fully known to the government and the defendant. This is the only social security number assigned to the defendant and the only number which she has permission to use.

The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (“Department of Employment Services”) is a department or agency of the District of Columbia government which is responsible for administering unemployment compensation for valid unemployment claims made in the District of Columbia. States pay for unemployment benefits through payroll taxes levied on employers. These taxes are deposited into the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund that maintains separate accounts for each state and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Department of Labor in part funds the Department of Employment Services in furtherance of this responsibility.

Upon receipt and processing of a valid claim submitted to the Department of Employment Services, a claimant is eligible to receive up to $9,334 over a six-month period, subject to various provisions and limitations. A claimant may receive unemployment compensation benefits by one of two methods. A claimant may choose an electronic transfer of the funds directly from the Department of Employment Services to the claimant’s bank account, by providing the bank account number and routing information on the initial application. Otherwise, a claimant may request to have a check mailed to an address provided by the claimant on the initial application. The primary piece of information used to validate the claim is the social security number provided with the claim. Once a claim has been processed and approved, a claimant must, on a weekly basis, certify by answering a series of questions that the claimant is still eligible to receive full unemployment compensation benefits as being provided under the claim.

On April 14, 2005, the defendant filed an internet application for unemployment compensation benefits with the Department of Employment Services and used a social security number that is fully known to the government, and was assigned by the Social Security Administration to another individual, who did not give the defendant permission to use its social security number to apply for unemployment compensation benefits. At the time the defendant filed the internet application on April 14, 2005, she knew that the social security number she used belonged to another person. The defendant received unemployment compensation benefits using that social security number from April 25, 2005 through October 24, 2005.

On November 5, 2006, the defendant filed an internet application for unemployment compensation benefits with the Department of Employment Services and used a social security number that is fully known to the government, and was assigned by the Social Security Administration to another individual, who did not give the defendant permission to use its social security number to apply for unemployment compensation benefits. At the time the defendant filed the internet application on November 5, 2006, she knew that the social security number she used belonged to another person. The defendant received unemployment compensation benefits using that social security number from November 20, 2006 through May 21, 2007.

During the time period November 27, 2004 through September 17, 2007, the defendant willfully and knowingly applied several times for unemployment compensation benefits with the Department of Employment Services using social security numbers assigned to other individuals. As a result of these applications, the defendant received money of the Department of Labor and the United States Treasury, namely unemployment compensation benefits, totaling at least $77,680.00, by a combination of electronic transfers to her bank accounts and checks mailed to her. The applications for and receipt of these funds constituted Theft of Public Money. During the course of this felony violation, the defendant knowingly used, without lawful authority, a means of identification of two individuals, namely two social security numbers not assigned to the defendant, in order to illegally obtain Federal Government funds during the time periods April 14, 2005 through October 24, 2005, and November 20, 2006 through May 21, 2007.

In announcing the sentence, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips, D.C. OIG Inspector General Willoughby, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Persichini, Jr., and DOL Inspector General Heddell commended the outstanding investigative work of D.C. OIG Special Agents Teddy Clark and Tanisha Carr, FBI Special Agent Jay Greenberg, Special Agent David Fargnoli of the DOL Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and Criminal Investigator Duncan Page 3 Templeton of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. They also praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla-Dee Clark who investigated and prosecuted the case, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Pearlman and Stephen Spiegelhalter who assisted in the prosecution, and Legal Assistants Latoya Davenport and Latoya Wade, and Paralegal Teesha Tobias who assisted with the case.