Nineteen Indicted For Defrauding Federal Unemployment Insurance Program
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that nineteen individuals were indicted on July 19, 2012, by the Grand Jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, East St. Louis Division. The indictments charge each defendant with stealing unemployment insurance benefits administered by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The alleged amount of overpayments in each of the cases ranged from approximately $11,000 to $40,000.
"Lying in order to collect unemployment compensation to which one is not entitled is a federal offense," said United States Attorney Wigginton. "Those who defraud the unemployment insurance program undermine support for an important public program. Cases involving theft of public funds are a high priority of my administration, particularly as public programs face economic crisis."
"Today's indictments demonstrate the Office of Inspector General's commitment to safeguarding the Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance Program. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of schemes," said James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.
Among those charged were Jeffrey Newman, age 44, and Kristy Matz, age 39, of Carmi, Illinois, in an indictment that alleges that Newman and Matz conspired together to steal from the unemployment insurance program while Newman was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Illinois. According to the indictment, Newman and Matz allegedly lied to obtain unemployment benefits in Newman=s name. Matz had possession of the debit card where the unemployment insurance payments were deposited. Matz is alleged to have wired some of the money to Newman=s account with the Bureau of Prisons. Newman and Matz allegedly converted $13,463.50 in unemployment insurance overpayments for their own use and benefit.
Also charged was John Wayne Anderson, age 30, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois. Anderson was on work release from the White County Jail while certifying to the Illinois Department of Employment Security that he was not working,
was able and available to work, and was actively seeking employment, as required by the
unemployment insurance program. Due to the fact that Anderson was either working in order to
qualify for work release or incarcerated, the indictment alleges that he defrauded the
unemployment insurance program of $11,691.00.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES") operates the State of Illinois
unemployment insurance ("UI") program, which is an employer-funded program providing
temporary income replacement for individual workers who lost their jobs through no fault of
their own. The administrative costs incurred by IDES are funded primarily by the federal
government. Illinois law requires that IDES pay UI payments in accordance with regulations
prescribed by IDES. After a worker becomes involuntarily unemployed, he or she is entitled to
make a claim for UI benefits. To make a claim, a worker must go to an IDES office and complete
and sign various benefit application forms, which set forth, among other things, the name of the
worker's employer and the worker's name and Social Security number. Once IDES approves a
claimant to receive UI payments, a UI claimant is required, approximately every two weeks, to
certify over the telephone certain information in order to continue receiving UI payments. As
part of the IDES certification process, an automated telephone service asks the UI claimant a number of questions, including: (1) whether the UI claimant had worked during the certification period; (2) whether the UI claimant was able to work; (3) whether the UI claimant was available for work; and (4) whether the UI claimant was actively looking for work during the certification period. IDES relies on the UI claimant's telephonic answers to the certification questions in determining whether to continue paying UI benefits to the claimant, and if so, the amount of the benefits.
Others charged with theft from the unemployment insurance program by providing false information during the certification period include:
Gloria Barker, age 60, of Belleville
Charles Brumley, age 41, of Alton
Michael Douglas, age 30, of O=Fallon
Lula Gooden, age 48, of Centreville
Cymica Grant, age 40, of Belleville
Roda Jeffries, age 41, of Belleville
Ontonio Jennings, age 36, of Granite City
Cartemus London, age 37, of Chicago
Herman Peterson, age 57, of East St. Louis
Kevin Presson, age 39, of Centralia
Timothy Russell, age 46, and Rebecca Russell, age 41, both of North Charleston, South Carolina
Yvette Rutherford, age 44, of Granite City
Bryan Samuels, age 47, of Madison
Kevin Veath, age 54, of Millstadt
Steven Woodcock, age 31, of Bluford
Theft of Government Funds is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to ten years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both, and a term of supervised release of up to three years. These cases were investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; the United States Postal Inspection Service; and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
These cases are being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Katherine L. Lewis.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, that charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.