BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)– A former Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) employee was sentenced in a federal court for fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits.

Tiffany Pacheco, a/k/a Tiffany Tavery, 36, formerly of New Bedford, was hired by the DUA in April 2020, after being released from federal prison following a conviction for aggravated identity theft.

While working at DUA, Pacheco submitted fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims using stolen identity information and fraudulent PUA claim information for herself and her husband, Arthur Pacheco, who was incarcerated in Texas until Sept. 4, 2020, making him ineligible for PUA funds. She also convinced a friend, Donna Wasson, to continue her scheme after she was caught, charged and detained.

In September 2020, police found various tools of identity fraud, including an ID laminator, 100 blank ID cards, 68 hologram overlays, 150 card lamination sheets and 649 sheets of blank checks in a search of their New Bedford apartment. They also seized approximately $17,000 cash and a notebook containing the personal identifying information of various individuals. A driver’s license found during the search matched the name of a victim Pacheco used to submit another fraudulent PUA claim. On Sept. 23, 2020, DUA terminated Tiffany Pacheco’s employment.

In December 2020 the couple was arrested in San Antonio, Texas.

On Nov. 18, 2021, Arthur Pacheco was sentenced to one year in prison and three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture in the amount of $7,491.

Pacheco was sentenced to 42 months in prison and three years of supervised release and must pay restitution in the amount of $199,555 and forfeiture of $17,181.

Their accomplice, Donna Wasson, was sentenced 18 months in prison and two years of supervised release and to pay restitution and forfeiture in the amount of $5,437.

 Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.