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Rockville Centre man pleads guilty to accepting unemployment benefits while working, prosecutors say

A Rockville Centre man pleaded guilty Monday to petit larceny charges after he fraudulently received more than $16,000 in unemployment benefits while working as a Suffolk County carpenter, prosecutors said Monday.

Joseph Chieffo, 31, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of petit larceny and one count of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to the Nassau County district attorney's office.

Chieffo was among nine people charged with fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits leading up to a round of arrests in July and August. The eight other cases are still pending. He was represented by the Legal Aid Society.

Prosecutors said Chieffo accepted $16,042.50 from the New York State Department of Labor in unemployment benefits at the same time he was working as a carpenter for a Bohemia-based company, earning about $41,133.85 from 2012 to 2013.

The Department of Labor discovered the fraudulent reports when its telephone call center cross matched his wage report with his benefit payments.

Chieffo is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 7 and is expected to be ordered to probation and pay back the full restitution of the amount of benefits he received.

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