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Albany man pleads guilty to COVID-19 insurance fraud

ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — An Albany man has pleaded guilty to charges in connection with a scheme to obtain pandemic-related unemployment insurance benefits. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said Kahleke Taylor, 21, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft charges.

Taylor is accused of using other people’s personal information to get unemployment benefits. He admitted that this resulted in an over $200,000 loss to the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL).

In his plea, Taylor admitted to soliciting personal information from people on social media. He then used the information to make false unemployment insurance applications on NYSDOL’s website. According to DOJ, on one application he filed in August 2020, Taylor certified that a person had lost work at a hotel in Latham in March 2020 due to “Lack of Work – COVID,” all of which was false.

From September 2020 through June 2021, the applications Taylor filed resulted in benefits payments of $207,004. DOJ said Taylor has agreed to pay full restitution to NYSDOL.

Taylor’s mail fraud and wire fraud convictions each carry maximum terms of 20 years in prison, fines of up to $250,000, and terms of supervised release of up to three years. The aggravated identity theft conviction carries a mandatory term of two years in prison, to run consecutively with other prison sentences. Taylor is set to be sentenced on December 8.

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