Defendant Also Admitted to Falsely Claiming She Had Cancer to Avoid Prison Sentence
TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced a Monmouth County woman was sentenced to state prison today for defrauding the state out of more than $8,800 by submitting a claim containing fraudulent information to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development in order to collect state temporary disability insurance monies to which she was not entitled.
Jennifer Massimo-Ruiz, 32, of Belmar, was sentenced to four years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Robert J. Mega in Union County. The sentence was based on Massimo-Ruiz’s Sept. 9 guilty plea to third-degree insurance fraud. The charge was contained in a July 25, 2013 state grand jury indictment.
Massimo-Ruiz admitted in court today that she submitted three letters to Judge Mega falsely stating that she had cancer. She also admitted to forging the signatures of two doctors on the letters. Massimo admitted that she submitted the letters in an effort to avoid or influence the pending sentencing. As a result of the letters, the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor and the defendant reached a revised plea agreement in which the state recommended that Massimo be sentenced to four years in state prison rather than three years to which the state had previously agreed in September.
In pleading guilty on Sept. 9, 2013, Massimo-Ruiz admitted that on or about April 19, 2010, she submitted a claim form to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development containing fraudulent information. As a result of the fraud, Massimo-Ruiz received $8,819 in disability insurance benefits to which she was not entitled.
New Jersey`s temporary disability law requires that a person be employed in the past year in order to be eligible for temporary disability benefits. An investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Massimo-Ruiz had not been employed during the 52 weeks prior to submitting her application for temporary disability benefits. The investigation revealed that Massimo-Ruiz falsely stated that she was employed as an office manager from 2008 to 2010 and was therefore eligible for temporary disability insurance benefits when she went out on maternity leave, starting in March 2010. The company for which Massimo-Ruiz purported to be working was owned by her family members.
Deputy Attorney General James Carey and Detectives Matthew Armstrong, Eric Flickenger and Christine Sullivan coordinated the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Carey prosecuted the case and represented the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor at sentencing. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi thanked the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for referring the matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.