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Husband, wife charged in unemployment benefits fraud scheme

A former inmate and his wife pleaded not guilty Wednesday to allegedly stealing more than $58,000 in unemployment benefits during incarceration, officials said.

Kevin and Nancy Smith, both 42, were arraigned Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office said in a statement. The pair were charged with unemployment fraud, larceny over $250 by false pretenses, conspiracy to commit a crime, and conspiracy to commit larceny.

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Kevin Smith, of Mattapan, was ordered held on $5,000 bail. Nancy Smith, of Somerville, was released on personal recognizance. Both were ordered to check in to probation twice a week by telephone, alert the attorney general’s office if they gain or lose a job, and to not seek any public benefit without alerting the office, the statement said. They are due back in court Dec. 13 for a pre-trial conference.

Kevin Smith had applied for and began receiving benefits in January 2009. In August of that year, he was incarcerated on unrelated charges, the attorney general’s office said.

Authorities found that during his incarceration, Smith allegedly gave his wife instructions via telephone on how to process his unemployment claims, the statement said.

Nancy Smith, or someone acting on her behalf, allegedly falsely certified Kevin’s unemployment claims, saying that he had been available to work between August 2009 and July 2011, when he was incarcerated. Further investigation by authorities proved that Nancy Smith allegedly cashed her husband’s unemployment checks and shared them with him, Coakley’s office said.

Melissa Hanson can be reached at melissa.hanson@globe.com . Follow her on Twitter @Melissa__Hanson.
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