Dec. 2-An Erie man accused of fraudulent unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic was given a deferred sentence as part of a plea agreement.
Michael Ray Delavallade, 59, pleaded guilty on Nov. 4 to theft of $5,000-$20,000 and was sentenced to a one-year deferred judgement, according to online records.
A deferred sentence means that if Delavallade can complete all the terms of his sentence and not pick up any new charges for a year, he will be able to withdraw his plea and the felony will be dismissed.
If he is unable to fulfill the terms of the sentence, he will be subject to sentencing on the theft charge, a Class 5 felony.
According to an arrest affidavit, Delavallade's claims were initially flagged by the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force because he used a Social Security number belonging to an individual who had died in 2008.
When questioned in April 2021, Delavallade said the number was the Federal Employer Identification Number of his business and that he must have entered the number into the wrong field.
But further investigation into Delavallade's unemployment claims also showed that he was still employed by Amazon when he filed for unemployment.
In total, Delavallade is accused of obtaining $10,442 in fraudulent benefits.
"In his bi-weekly online UI payment requests, Delavallade misrepresented his employment status, income, and Social Security number, effectively concealing his true employment and earnings from (Colorado Department of Labor and Employment)," an investigator wrote in the affidavit.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser began the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force in March 2021 to address pandemic-related fraud against the state and to investigate and prosecute cases involving suspected identity theft and unemployment fraud.