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Woman admits to unemployment compensation fraud

By Dean Shalhoup - Senior Staff Writer | Apr 4, 2018

NASHUA – A tearful Melissa Padeiro, her voice choked with emotion, admitted in court Monday that she’s “embarrassed,” and “should have been intelligent enough” to understand what she was doing when she filed for 19 weeks of unemployment benefits to which she was not entitled.

“Your honor, I stand here before you very sorry for my careless actions … looking back, this was clearly wrong, and foolish. I want to make this right,” Padeiro, 42, of Hollis, told Superior Court Judge Tina L. Nadeau.

Padeiro, whose attorney said she is currently battling cancer and suffering great anxiety over the possibility of losing her job and health benefits, addressed the court during her plea and sentencing hearing on the charge of unemployment compensation fraud.

Nadeau, after considering the matter briefly, accepted attorney Shea Sennett’s recommendation that Padeiro be sentenced to 12 months in jail, all deferred for six months, then suspended for two years, meaning that if she abides by the conditions in her sentencing order she will avoid jail time.

Although Assistant Attorney General Heather Cherniske, who prosecuted the case, recommended a jail term of just four days, Nadeau said it wouldn’t add anything to the deterrent factor.

“This is not to say that the state’s recommendation is wrong,” she told Padeiro, but “every case is different … every person is different, and you have clearly shown remorse.”

Nadeau said she also didn’t want any kind of sentence to get in the way of the cancer treatment Padeiro is undergoing.

The charge, which was reduced to a Class A misdemeanor as part of the agreement, accuses Padeiro of “knowingly failing to report her employment” status when she filed for 19 weeks of unemployment benefits between Sept. 6, 2014, and Jan. 11, 2015,” according to the indictment and a statement issued Tuesday by Cherniske and Richard Lavers, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Employment Security.

Padeiro “fraudulently received $3,382 in

unemployment benefits” during that period, according to the statement.

The sides also agreed to several stipulations as part of the negotiated plea deal, including that Padeiro remain on good behavior and make restitution to the state in the amount she fraudulently received, plus a required penalty of $676, the court documents state.

She also agreed to participate in an interview with the Department of Employment Security Benefits Rights, which, officials said, “discusses the ramifications of committing unemployment fraud.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.

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