A Portland man accused of fraudulently collecting state unemployment benefits while he continued to work was convicted recently of a felony charge of theft by deception.
Tracy Young, 49, of 35 Cypress St., pleaded guilty July 28 at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland to a single count of theft by deception as part of a plea agreement in which a second identical count was dismissed.
Young was given a three-year sentence, all of it suspended with no prison time, pending the successful completion of a two-year probation term. Young was allowed to remain free from custody after paying full restitution of $2,587, which will be returned to the Maine Department of Labor.
Young was already on probation at the time of his guilty plea for a 2013 conviction on a felony charge of theft by unauthorized taking for stealing books from the University of New England, according to court records.
Justice Donald Alexander ordered Young to begin serving his probation in the unemployment fraud case only after completing his probation from the 2013 case.
The Department of Labor said in a news release Tuesday that the state has collected $63,497 so far this year through July 31 in unemployment fraud prosecutions, and the amount is expected to exceed the $67,501 the state collected in similar cases in 2013. There are 88 other criminal fraud cases pending in state courts.
Gov. Paul LePage issued a release saying the governor has made unemployment fraud and other state benefits fraud a priority during his first term in office.
“Unemployment fraud takes money away from people who are genuinely in need,” LePage said in a written statement related to Young’s conviction. “Fraud also burdens the businesses that pay the unemployment taxes that fund the benefits.”