FORT LEE, N.J. – A former Fort Lee mortgage broker already headed to a federal pen must also spend at least three years in state prison for filing bogus unemployment and temporary disability claims that netted $317,736 by using the names of prison inmates.
Jose Crespo, 52, must also pay the government back after pleading guilty last April to computer theft.
Crespo's wife, Marilyn Crespo, 50, pleaded guilty to theft charge and was sentenced to a drug court program that carries a five-year prison sentence if she fails to meet its requirements.
Her husband's friend, Craig Mallone, 62, of Wilmington, Del., pleaded guilty to theft by deception and was sentenced to 364 days in jail and three years of probation.
“Prolific con artists like Crespo are a costly drain on the unemployment insurance trust fund, which is a vital safety net for hardworking New Jerseyans who lose their jobs through no fault of their own,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
The Crepos "defrauded the New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance programs by creating shell companies and using stolen identities of innocent victims to file fraudulent claims," added Peter Nozka, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Region of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.
Crespo, who also previously lived in North Bergen before moving to Delaware, pulled off two schemes with his wife's help between December 2012 and December 2015, authorities said.
In the first, Grewal said, Crespo filed 19 fraudulent unemployment Insurance claims, all of which listed the same two phony companies.
Eleven of the claims "used the identities of current or former inmates in the Georgia state prison system, and several others were filed in the names of members of the Crespo family," the attorney general said.
In the second scheme, Crespo filed 23 fraudulent Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) -- this time using seven different shell companies and 16 identities of current or former Georgia inmates, Grewal said.
Deputy Attorney General Scarduzio, Detective Christine Sullivan and Analyst Bethany Schussler conducted the investigation for the state Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau by They worked with the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. Prosecuting the case were Attorneys General Danielle Scarduzio -- who handled Monday's sentencing -- and Christopher Keating.
Crespo was sentenced in January to three years in federal prison for collecting nearly $1.5 million in unentitled tax refunds from the government by, once again, falsely claiming tax credits for shell companies he created.
Jose Crespo, who took a plea deal in September, filed returns that falsely listed income from bonds and fuel excise tax credits for several years, beginning in 2006, IRS Special Agent Jonathan D. Larsen said.
Crespo collected $652,478 the first year of the scheme for his Specialty Home Services company in Fort Lee, while taking in nearly $60,000 on his personal return, Larsen said.
The following two years, he collected $277,853 and $157,878, respectively, to which he wasn’t entitled, the special agent said.
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