Postal Service employees, including Niantic woman, charged in fraud case

Seven U.S. Postal Service employees, including one from Niantic, were arrested Friday and charged with illegally collecting more than $110,000 in unemployment compensation benefits.

The seven employees “grossly under-reported” the wages they received while employed by the Postal Service in order to fraudulently collect unemployment benefits, according to a press release from the Division of Criminal Justice.

Erin C. Chapel, 38, of 18 Burnap Road was charged with unemployment compensation fraud and first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community, according to the Division of Criminal Justice. She is accused of fraudulently collecting $8,841 benefits from March through December 2013.

Also accused are Jewel M. Bowman, 57, of West Haven; Rafael A. Jaworski, 31, of Stratford; Maurice J. James, 61, of Hartford; Jrae S. Little, 25, of Springfield, Mass.; Kelly L. Johnson, 30, Torrington; and Robbin A. Smit, 47, of Torrington.

They are all scheduled to appear in Superior Court in New Britain on June 24.

The arrests are the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from the Connecticut Department of Labor.

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