Sunday, September 20, 2020
Sunday, September 20, 2020

Feds Nab 4 Chesco Residents for Unemployment Fraud After Signing Inmates Up
F

Your Content is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that four residents of suburban Philadelphia have been hit with unemployment fraud in connection to funds received under the coronavirus emergency, Your Content is first to report.

Jennifer D’Hulster, 37, of Coatesville, PA; Zachary Gathercole, 30, of Sadsburyville, PA; Ashley Harrington, 30, of West Chester, PA; and Anthony Schweitzer, 20, also of Coatesville, PA, were charged with fraudulently obtaining and attempting to obtain unemployment benefits related to COVID-19 emergency relief funds to which they were not entitled.

- Advertisement -

Defendant D’Hulster was arrested and taken into custody this morning; the other three defendants were already in custody. All four defendants made their initial appearances in federal court today.

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law. The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended unemployment benefits, including individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligibility to receive weekly PUA benefits was predicated on the applicant’s unemployment for reasons related to the pandemic; however, the applicant must also have been able to work each day and, if offered a job, the applicant must have been able to accept it.

- Advertisement -

Once the applicant was approved to receive benefits, the applicant was required to submit weekly certifications that indicated that he or she: was ready, willing and able to work each day; was seeking full time employment; did not refuse any job offers or referrals; and, had reported any employment during the week and the gross pay or other payments received.

The Complaint alleges that D’Hulster and Harrington assisted individuals incarcerated at Chester County Prison and other correctional institutions in fraudulent efforts to obtain Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. Harrington enabled Gathercole, who was incarcerated at Chester County Prison prior to the onset of the pandemic, to receive approximately $12,865.

D’Hulster and Gathercole enabled another unidentified inmate to receive approximately $11,410 and attempted to obtain PUA benefits for another inmate. Schweitzer did not actually receive any PUA benefits, but attempted to several times.

The inmates were not eligible to receive PUA benefits because they did not meet the eligibility requirements — namely, they were not able to report to a job each day because of their incarceration.

“Sadly, fraudsters consider a national public health crisis as an opportunity to cash in,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “That callous attitude rips off honest taxpayers who fund relief programs and also makes it much more difficult to provide funds to those who deserve and need them. My Office will do everything in its power to ensure that coronavirus fraud scams are stopped and punished.”

“Unemployment insurance fraud has risen sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, and investigating these types of schemes remains a priority for the Office of Inspector General. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue allegations of criminal conduct against the Unemployment Insurance program,” said Derek Pickle, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Philadelphia Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

“At the end of March, 2020, the United States Government invested billions of dollars in helping its citizens through the pandemic,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Damon Wood.  “From the beginning, Postal Inspectors in Philadelphia, and across the country, have worked to do our part in ensuring that those investments in the American public do not fall into the hands of fraudsters and con artists.  I hope that the charges announced today serve as a deterrence to those who think that stealing or obtaining funds fraudulently from the most vulnerable amongst us, pays; it doesn’t.  As always, I want to thank the other agencies that assisted in this investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office which supported the investigation and will see the prosecution through.”

If convicted of the conspiracy and fraud in connection with emergency benefits charges, D’Hulster, Gathercole, Harrington, and Schweitzer each face up to 60 years’ imprisonment, a $2,000,000 fine, and five years of supervised release following any imprisonment.­ 

This case was investigated by the United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, assisted by Chester County Prison. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anita Eve.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

Protect Independent Journalism

Your Content is a nonprofit newsroom that produces nonpartisan, evidence-based journalism to expose injustice, corruption and wrongdoing.

Spearheading the news revolution for Americans across the nation, Your Content has brought a voice to those the media failed to acknowledge.

This story you’ve just finished was funded by our readers and we hope it inspires you to make a gift to Your Content so that we can publish more reports like this one that holds people in power to account and produces real change.

Your donation will help us ensure that we can continue this critical work. We are busier than ever covering stories you won’t see anywhere else.

Pa. Mall Gunman At-Large After Shooting Up Lehigh Valley Mall, No Injuries Reported

The gunman remains on the loose Sunday morning, hours after dozens of police vehicles surrounded the building.

New York City Man Arrested for Forcing Train Derailment in Manhattan

A man was arrested early Sunday after allegedly forcing an NYC subway train to jump the tracks and derail.

Nancy Pelosi Says She’ll Use Impeachment Resolution to Tie Up Senate Floor to Stop and Snatch RBG Pick

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday refused to rule out pushing forward a privileged impeachment resolution.

Philadelphia Police SCOUR Region for Man Suspected of Attempting to Kill COPS, Considered Armed and Dangerous

If seen dial 911 immediately and do not approach the armed and dangerous cop killer.

Bill Clinton Says Replacing RBG is ‘Hypocritical’ but Doesn’t Address Epstein Island Situation

Bill Clinton says it's "superficially hypocritical" for President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Pennsylvania Family Purchases Six Billboards Reminding People Police Are ‘Your Neighbors, Your Friends, Your Family’

A Pennsylvania woman and her family purchased six billboards in Berks County to support police.

Jenna Ortega and Selena Gomez Cast for Scream 5, Pre-Production Complete with Filming ‘Imminent’

Jenna Ortega will be in the fifth ‘Scream’ installment with Selena Gomez and sources claim the pre-production phase of the project is complete.

Seattle ‘Slime-Ball’ Escaped Justice After 34 Arrest and Releases Finally Found Dead in Tank Full of Bleach

The miscreant appears to have accidentally killed himself while attempting to evade police by drowning in bleach.

Stay Informed & Get Your Content, Daily.

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

Your Content is a 501(c)(3) non-profit national American media organization of artists and journalists headquartered in Pennsylvania.