ELLSWORTH, Maine — The top prosecutor in Hancock and Washington counties is saying a recent spate of criminal unemployment fraud cases pending in his district are hurting businesses.

Matthew Foster, district attorney for Hancock and Washington counties, said Monday in a prepared statement that a Bar Harbor man was indicted last month by a Hancock County grand jury on charges of theft by deception and unemployment fraud. This month in Washington County, a Calais man was indicted on the same charges. Eight more unemployment fraud cases in the two counties are expected to be presented to grand juries in the coming months, he added.

Keith N. Goodrich, 47, of Bar Harbor, is accused of obtaining more than $18,000 in unemployment insurance benefits over a four-year period, according to Foster. He is alleged to have filed weekly claims while he was working and to have not reported that he was in fact employed. Goodrich is facing a felony Class B charge of theft by deception and a Class E misdemeanor charge of unemployment fraud.

A conviction for a Class B crime in Maine can result in a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000, while a conviction for a Class E crime is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Calais resident Sean Stinson, 43, is accused of filing weekly claims for benefits while he was employed and of obtaining $7,882 in unemployment insurance benefits in return, according to the prosecutor. Stinson was indicted March 9 on one Class C felony charge of theft by deception and one Class E misdemeanor charge of unemployment fraud, Foster said. A class C felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Foster added that eight more pending unemployment fraud cases — five in Hancock County and three in Washington County — represent more than $60,000 in lost funds.

“Unemployment fraud is not a victimless crime,” the prosecutor wrote in the statement. “[It] causes business owners to pay more in unemployment insurance tax.”

Otherwise, Foster added, employers could dedicate those funds to increased wages, new equipment or building improvements. Recovery of the allegedly stolen funds, he said, would be beneficial to employers and employees in the two counties who legitimately need unemployment benefits.

“This is a crime that cannot be condoned,” Foster said. “My office will continue to prosecute these crimes that have a direct impact on the taxpayers of Hancock and Washington counties.”

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....