Former Massachusetts state senator indicted in COVID relief fraud scheme worth over $30K

A former Massachusetts state senator has been accused of fraudulently collecting over $30,000 in COVID-19 pandemic unemployment benefits shortly after he left office and filing false tax returns, federal prosecutors said.

Dean Tran, 48, of Fitchburg, was indicted on 25 counts of wire fraud and three counts of filing false tax returns, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for Massachusetts. He was arrested on Friday morning and was expected to be arraigned Friday afternoon.

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“Dean Tran was once elected to serve taxpayers, but today we arrested him for allegedly cheating them out of tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent unemployment benefits that were meant to be a lifeline for those struggling for survival as a result of the pandemic,” FBI agent Jodi Cohen said in a statement on Friday.

The FBI alleges that he intentionally lied so that he could get a tax break.

Phone and email messages left with Tran’s lawyer seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Tran served as a Republican state senator representing Worcester and Middlesex from 2017 to January of 2021. Prosecutors allege that following his senate term he fraudulently applied for pandemic unemployment benefits after he had already accepted a consulting job with a New Hampshire-based automotive parts company. He is accused of collecting around $30,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits, while working that job.

Tran is also accused of failing to report over $50,000 in consulting income on his 2021 federal income tax return, the U.S. attorney’s office said. He’s also charged with concealing thousands of dollars in rental income from the IRS, money collected from tenants from 2020 to 2022.

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