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21 boro residents nabbed in unemployment scam

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Nearly two dozen Queens residents were arrested last week in an unemployment insurance scam in which they were accused of bilking the state out of more than $130,000, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Of the 22 people charged in the scam — in which the suspects allegedly collected unemployment payments while holding down paying jobs — four were substitute city teachers who worked in schools in Queens and Brooklyn, Brown said. Most of the suspects came from Queens, while one of the people charged lived in Brooklyn.

The thefts totaling $130,856 between 1997 and 2000 were uncovered by a joint investigation by the Queens DA’s office and the state Labor Department. The people accused are charged with various counts of grand larceny and some face prison terms of up to seven years, the DA’s office said.

“Cheating drives up the cost of benefits and what can look like easy money to some individuals is in fact stealing,” Brown said in a statement.

Labor Department Commissioner Linda Agnello credited Brown with helping crack the case.

“With help from District Attorney Brown, we are able to crack down on people who intentionally cheat the unemployment insurance system, and together we will arrest and criminally prosecute all violators,” she said in a statement.

Together the four substitute teachers accused of taking part in the scam, who hail from Ridgewood, Howard Beach, Corona and Brooklyn, allegedly stole a total of $8,732, authorities said.

The accused teachers — Carolyn Kennedy, 60, of 113-15 34th Ave., Corona; Edy Lajara, 53, of 1830 Putnam Ave., Brooklyn; Kim Orlando, 29, of 88-07 159th Ave., Howard Beach; and Hector Rivera, 50, of 16-91 Gates Ave., Ridgewood — worked in public schools in Corona, Long Island City, Rockaway and Brooklyn, the DA’s office said.

The suspects include Oscar Alinabon, 56, of 30-86 32nd St., Astoria; John Bonitch, 32, of 83-31 116th St., Richmond Hill; Anthony Brathwaite, 43, 137-28 97th Ave., Jamaica; Carmelita Brazziera, 43, of 2053 Seagirt Blvd., Far Rockaway; Phoebe Castillo, 53, of 244-15 57th Ave., Douglaston; Lilipth Daley, 44, of 217-33 99th Ave., Queens Village; Darwin Gonzalez, 24, of 102-45 Corona Ave., Corona; Rosalyn Harrison, 42, of 147-48 225th St., Rosedale; and Douglas Johnson, 40, of 195-30 Jamaica Ave., Hollis, the DA said.

Also accused are Peter Kempadoo, 31, of 91-05 Vanderveer St., Queens Village; Kimberly Lewis, 34, of 456 Beach 40th St., Far Rockaway; Hector Lopez, 38, 18-19 21st Ave., Astoria; Gregory Moore, 46, 178-12 145th Ave., Springfield Gardens; Lawrence Mordaunt, 41, 172-90 Highland Ave., Jamaica; Alex Osson, 36, 7004 69th St. Glendale; Harold Tippett, 47, of 128-29 236th St., Jamaica; Amina Williams, 28, of 120-20 153rd St., Jamaica; and Jacqueline Williams, 38, of 170-32 130th Ave., Jamaica, according to Brown.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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