A former Arizona man was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Bangor Tuesday to five years in prison for stealing several Mainers’ identities in order to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
James McAuliffe, 55, was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
McAuliffe previously pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud and six counts of aggravated identity theft in August 2023.
He was also order to pay $203,616 in restitution.
“The prosecution of Mr. McAuliffe is one of numerous cases brought by the Department of Justice nationwide to bring to justice those who sought to exploit COVID-19 relief fund programs,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine Darcie McElwee.
“To those who defrauded and stole from American taxpayers in the middle of a global crisis, you should expect that our Office and the Department of Justice will do everything possible to hold you accountable,” McElwee said.
According to court records, from January to November 2020 McAuliffe used other people’s identities without their consent in order to file fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits with the Maine Department of Labor Bureau of Unemployment Compensation.
McAuliffe also fraudulently applied to the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles for replacement driver’s licenses, changed the drivers’ mailing addresses, and then used the fraudulent licenses in order to support his UI benefit claims.
McAuliffe withdrew the funds at ATMs in Arizona, though at the time of his arrest he was living in Kansas.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine says McAuliffe had the UI benefits loaded onto debit cards, and would then wire the funds into an account he opened in another person’s name.
“James McAuliffe engaged in a scheme to obtain unemployment insurance benefits by submitting fraudulent claims using the stolen identities of Maine residents and others. McAuliffe stole federal benefits intended to assist unemployed American workers struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jonathan Mellone, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to safeguard Department of Labor programs from those who seek to exploit them,” Mellone added.