A Lower Southampton man frustrated with the slowness of the state’s response to record-high unemployment claims has landed him in Bucks County prison. Brian Raffert, 61, allegedly directed his anger toward Governor Tom Wolf’s family.
Pennsylvania State Police say Rafferty tried calling the state unemployment office several times, but had trouble getting through.
So, he allegedly decided to call the Governor’s office in Harrisburg Monday. Police say Rafferty became increasingly angry, then threatened the Governor and his family.
An affidavit of probable cause says Rafferty told the person who answered the phone he lived down the street from the Governor’s daughter and granddaughter, saying “they’re dead, you hear me. They’re dead.”
Meantime, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Labor and Industry is asking for patience from those who have filed filed unemployment compensation claims due to coronavirus-related job losses.
Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak issued a statement the same day as Rafferty’s alleged call. Oleksiak says he knows people are frustrated.
“We are doing all we can,” said Oleksiak. “I would continue, as frustrating as it is, to be patient. We are getting to you.”
However, they are facing an unprecedented increase in demand.
The department was staffed for record-low unemployment before the pandemic. Now, they are staffed for record-high unemployment with more than 1.65 million jobless claims filed since mid-March.
On the positive side, L&I has caught up on mailing personal identification numbers. If someone has not received a PIN 3 weeks after filing a claim, they should contact the department.
As for Rafferty, he reportedly confessed to making the call in an interview with Pennsylvania State Police. Rafferty was sent to Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $200,000 bail.
Another condition of his bail includes a mental health evaluation. He must also not have any contact with the Governor’s office, family, or Wolf himself.