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Batavia woman pleads guilty to COVID-19 fraud

FEDERAL COURT
Posted at 6:35 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 18:35:14-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Batavia woman has pleaded guilty to COVID-19 fraud.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced that 37-year-old Danielle Tooley pleaded guilty to wire fraud before Chief U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford Wednesday. According to officials, Tooley applied for and collected unemployment benefits she was not entitled to that were connected to federal COVID-19 relief programs.

The fraud came to the attention of law enforcement during a traffic stop in November 2020.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, on November 24, 2020 New York State police arrested Tooley for criminal possession of a controlled substance during a vehicle traffic stop on Clinton Street in Bergen. A crack pipe with white residue was observed inside the vehicle and Tooley admitted she had crack cocaine in the vehicle. As police prepared for the vehicle to be towed, troopers recovered six New York State unemployment benefit cards issued to individuals other than Tooley. The cards were turned over to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General and an investigation determined that Tooley consistently withdrew money from bank accounts associated with the cards.

Tooley is scheduled to be sentenced August 17. She faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.