Seven Connecticut postal workers charged with unemployment benefit fraud

Seven U.S. Postal Service employees were arrested today and charged with illegally collecting more than $110,000 in Unemployment Compensation benefits.

The arrests are the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from the Connecticut Department of Labor.

According to the arrest warrant affidavits, the seven are accused of grossly under-reporting the wages they received while employed by the Postal Service in order to fraudulently collect unemployment benefits.

Charged with one count each of Unemployment Compensation Fraud and one count each of Larceny in the First Degree by Defrauding a Public Community, and released on a $10,000 non-surety bond each were:

  • JEWEL M. BOWMAN, age 57, of 36 Meadowbrook Court, West Haven, accused of collecting approximately $17,204 in benefits from January 2010 through January 2014.
  • ERIN C. CHAPPEL, age 38, of 18 Burnap Road, Niantic, accused of collecting approximately $8,841 in benefits from March through December 2013.
  • RAFAEL A. JAWORSKI, age 31, of 95 Swanson Avenue, Stratford, accused of collecting approximately $14,016 in benefits from February 2013 through June 2014.
  • MAURICE J. JAMES, age 61, of 600 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, accused of collecting approximately $7,206 in benefits from August 2011 through September 2013.
  • JRAE S. LITTLE, age 25, of Springfield, Mass., accused of collecting approximately $8,661 in benefits from November 2013 through April 2014.
  • KELLY L. JOHNSON, age 30, of 117 Birchwood Drive, Torrington, accused of collecting approximately $36,625 in benefits from February 2010 through November 2013.
  • ROBBIN A. SMITH, age 47, of 21 East Center Street, Torrington, accused of collecting approximately $21,303 in benefits from June 2010 through May 2013.

The seven are scheduled to appear in Superior Court, G.A. No. 15, New Britain, on June 24, 2014. The charges against them are merely accusations and all of they are presumed innocent unless and until found guilty.

Larceny in the First Degree by Defrauding a Public Community is a class B felony punishable by not less than one year nor more than 20 years in prison and/or up to a $15,000 fine. Unemployment Compensation Fraud in excess of $500 is a class D felony punishable by not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.

The cases are being prosecuted by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit, which was established under a partnership with the Connecticut Department of Labor to investigate and prosecute alleged fraud in the unemployment compensation program. The unit is working with all local and state law enforcement agencies, as well as with federal agencies.

The Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit is grateful for the assistance it received from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the Torrington Police Department and the West Hartford Police Department.