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Former state senator Dean Tran arrested for alleged COVID unemployment fraud

Former state senator Dean Tran in 2018.Sam Doran/State House News Service

Former state senator Dean Tran was arrested Friday morning on federal charges that he fraudulently collected jobless benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic and failed to report rental income to the IRS, prosecutors said.

Tran, 48, was charged with 25 counts of wire fraud and three counts of filing false tax returns and is slated to make an initial appearance in US District Court in Boston at 1:30 p.m., Acting US Attorney Joshua S. Levy’s office said.

His lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Tran, who lives in Fitchburg, served as a state senator from 2017 until January 2021, and after leaving office allegedly “applied for pandemic unemployment benefits despite having already accepted a job as a paid consultant for a New Hampshire-based automotive parts company,” federal prosecutors said.


While working as a consultant, Tran allegedly received more than $30,000 in fraudulent jobless benefits.

He also failed to disclose more than $50,000 he earned from the auto parts company on his 2021 federal tax return, federal prosecutors said. He also concealed “thousands of dollars” he received from a Fitchburg rental property between 2020 and 2022, prosecutors alleged.

“The indictment returned by the grand jury alleges that Former State Senator Tran exploited pandemic unemployment benefits — diverting critical resources intended for deserving individuals genuinely in need,” Levy said in a statement.

Jodi Cohen, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston division, said Tran “allegedly made the conscious decision to repeatedly lie about his employment status and underreport his rental property income so he could get a tax break.”

“Dean Tran was once elected to serve taxpayers, but today we arrested him for allegedly cheating them out of tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent unemployment benefits that were meant to be a lifeline for those struggling for survival as a result of the pandemic,” Cohen said in a statement.


Tran, a Republican, was indicted in September on state charges for allegedly using members of his legislative staff to campaign for him during his 2018 and 2020 reelection bids. That case is pending.

In July 2022, he was indicted for allegedly stealing a gun from an elderly constituent in 2019 and misleading investigators about what happened. That matter also remains pending.

Travis Andersen can be reached at