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Lewis M. Seagull v. Board of Review

July 22, 2011

LEWIS M. SEAGULL, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, KEAN UNIVERSITY. RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Docket No. 143,626.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 2, 2011

Before Judges Sabatino and Alvarez.

The Division of Unemployment Insurance (Division) determined claimant Lewis Seagull obtained unemployment benefits through false or fraudulent misrepresentation and required him to refund benefits paid in the years 2003, 2004, and 2005. The Division also disqualified him from receipt of future benefits for a term of one year from its completion of the investigation and discovery of the misrepresentation, effective January 29, 2007, and imposed a fine of twenty-five percent of the total of all benefits paid. Seagull now appeals from a Board of Review final decision affirming an Appeal Tribunal and requiring him to refund $15,006, N.J.S.A. 43:21-16(d), disqualifying him from receipt of unemployment benefits for one-year, N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(g)(1), and imposing a fine of $3751.50, N.J.S.A. 43:21-16(a). We affirm.

Seagull essentially underreported his wages from August 30, 2003 through December 20, 2003, did not report wages at all from September 4, 2004 through December 18, 2004, and underreported wages from December 24, 2005 through March 18, 2006. It is undisputed that Seagull was entitled to partial weekly benefits for the periods in question. Since he would have become entitled to the benefits in any event, just over a longer period, Seagull contends whether he received them earlier or later in time is of no consequence and does not make his receipt of benefits improper. He also claims he did not understand the manner in which he was to calculate his wages for the relevant periods.

The Appeal Tribunal, however, found these arguments neither convincing nor credible. In the July 24, 2009 decision ultimately affirmed by the Board of Review, the Appeals Examiner stated that Seagull's inaccurate declaring of partial earnings on the first claim for unemployment benefits, and his failure to declare any earnings on the second unemployment claim is indicative of the claimant's fraudulent behavior to collect more benefits than his entitlement.

Further, the claimant's explanation that he misinterpreted how to claim partial benefits was not credible. His subsequent failure to disclose any earnings on one claim, or attempt to correct any previously estimated earnings, after he received his salary for a semester's work, showed fraudulent behavior on his part.

On appeal, Seagull makes the following points:

POINT I: THE BOARD OF REVIEW ERRED IN APPLYING FINES TO THE TOTAL AMOUNT TO BE REPAID RATHER THAN THE AMOUNT FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINED

POINT II: THERE WAS NO FRAUD INVOLVED IN BENEFITS PAID FOR THE WEEKS ENDING 8/30/03, 9/06/03, 9/04/04, AND 12/24/05

POINT III: THERE WAS NO FRAUD IN THE CLAIMS FOR 2003 OR 2005-06

POINT IV: THE BOARD OF REVIEW ERRED IN DETERMINING THE DATES OF CLAIMANT'S DISQUALIFICATION

POINT V: THE DIVISION OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS CONTINUES TO WRONGFULLY DENY CLAIMANT BENEFITS TO WHICH HE IS ENTITLED AND THEREBY DENIES HIM HIS STATUTORY RIGHT ...


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