New Jersey man sentenced to 18 years in prison for role in stealing $1.5M in jobless benefits

Economic Indicators Associated Press

A Newark man was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison for his role in an unemployment fraud scheme that authorities said was one of the largest in state history.

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Terry Dilligard II pleaded guilty in April to theft by deception and money laundering. He admitted conspiring with numerous others including his mother, father, sister and former girlfriend to steal about $1.5 million in unemployment benefits from the state. The 39-year-old also agreed to repay $1 million.

Dilligard and the others were charged in 2012 with orchestrating a scheme that raked in $2 million by filing claims using stolen identities, nonexistent work histories and even the names of dead people.

At the time of the arrests, authorities said the fraud came to light when a debit card company affiliated with a bank used by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development noticed some accounts were receiving deposits from multiple claimants or from claimants who were deceased.

An investigation revealed the defendants filed the false claims primarily online, with the payouts going to Internet bank accounts controlled by Dilligard or by checks to other defendants.

Dilligard's ex-girlfriend, Monique Valentine of Roselle, was sentenced last fall to five years in prison. Dilligard's mother, 59-year-old Janice Allen of Newark, and his twin sister, Janice, also of Newark, were convicted in December 2013 of stealing more than $500,000 in unemployment benefits and each sentenced to 15 years in prison. Charges are pending against his father, 60-year-old Terry Dilligard of Deland, Florida.

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Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said Friday that 25 of the 26 others indicted in the plot have either pleaded guilty or been accepted in pre-trial intervention programs. The remaining defendant is at large.