Say Case Should be Referred to the Attorney General if Fraud is Found
STATE HOUSE -- Representatives Patricia Morgan (R-District 26; Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) and Blake Filippi (I-District 36; Block Island, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly) are calling on Governor Raimondo to launch an investigation into potential fraud at the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, after an internal investigation exposed security gaps in the agency’s computer system. Both Representatives Morgan and Filippi ask that the case be referred to R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s office for prosecution if fraud is found.
A report issued March 21st by Auditor General, Dennis Hoyle, revealed that the computer systems at the R.I. Department of Labor and Training had inadequate security controls and allowed employees "to modify data within claimant applications without supervisory review or approval."
“It is truly disturbing to know staff were able to edit unemployment claimant information without any oversight,” said Morgan. “Data could have been manipulated to wrongfully award unemployment benefits to someone not legally entitled to them. Hard-working Rhode Islanders cannot afford more wasteful spending. The Governor’s office needs to launch an investigation to review all unemployment claimant information and determine whether or not it was entered correctly. Taxpayers must not be on the hook for unentitled benefits. If fraud was committed, those responsible must be referred to the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office for prosecution.”
Representative Filippi echoed Morgan’s concerns: “Our benefit systems must be secure, and there must be a thorough accounting when it is determined there may have been security lapses. There is no way to know if the state overpaid unemployment claims unless a thorough audit is conducted. If anyone was improperly paid, or overpaid, the state must recoup these monies. If anyone was improperly paid as a result of fraud, then the Attorney General should prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law. The entire system of state benefits is built on the People’s faith that it is administered properly, and we have a solemn duty to ensure that it is.”
Representatives Morgan and Filippi ask that the Governor’s office investigate the legitimacy of all claims paid with the agency’s insecure computer system and seek reimbursement for any improperly paid benefits. Should it be determined that any monies were paid out as a result of fraud, Representatives Morgan and Filippi want the case referred to the Office of Attorney General for prosecution.