Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that two Rhode Island residents have been ordered to repay $15,371 to the State after pleading in Providence County Superior Court to fraudulently obtaining unemployment insurance benefits by not reporting earned wages to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT).

Richard Geminiani (age 57), of Woonsocket, pleaded nolo contendere to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses. Geminiani was given a four-year deferred sentence and ordered to pay $6,477 in restitution to the State. Between January 2014 and February 2016, Geminiani was employed with a window installation company and collected unemployment insurance benefits while failing to report his wages to DLT.

Sareth Chea (age 38), of Providence, pleaded nolo contendere to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses over $1,500. Chea was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay $8,840 in restitution to the State. Between January 2019 and July 2019, Chea worked at a bank and collected unemployment insurance benefits while failing to report her wages to DLT. Chea is a former DLT employee and was familiar with reporting requirements.

“Regardless of circumstances, when individuals collect benefits that they aren’t entitled to, they reduce the amount of benefits that are available to Rhode Islanders who really need them,” said Attorney General Neronha. “While the conduct of the defendants happened prior to this year, I think everyone has witnessed during our government’s response to the COVID pandemic how critical these funds are to those who are really struggling. Although the pandemic may have heightened the public’s awareness of issues related to unemployment benefits, this work has always been important because of its impact on our ability to help those who need it.”

The Rhode Island State Police Financial Crimes Unit and DLT led the investigation into the cases. Special Assistant Attorney General Carole McLaughlin prosecuted the cases on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.