Southern Illinois Resident Sentenced for Federal Unemployment Insurance Program Fraud
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that Ontonio Jennings, 37, formerly of Granite City, Illinois, was sentenced on January 4, 2013, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois for defrauding the unemployment insurance program. The District Court sentenced Jennings to 10 months in jail to be followed by a 2 year term of supervised release. Jennings was also was ordered to repay $5,796 in restitution (this figure represents the amount of restitution outstanding after other restitution payments were considered) to the Illinois Department of Employment Security and to pay a $100 special assessment.
“Lying and cheating to receive unemployment compensation is a crime,” said United States Attorney Wigginton. “Those who defraud the unemployment insurance program undermine support for an important public program and hurt and insult every law-abiding citizen of Southern Illinois, particularly as public programs face economic crises. I will continue to place a high priority on pursuing those who steal from the United States Treasury.”
At the time of his guilty plea, Jennings admitted to being employed at various times between December 2008 and May 2010 while also filing for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits. In order to receive the benefits, Jennings had to certify, approximately every two weeks, to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) that he was ready, willing, and able to work. He had to verify that he was actively seeking work. Jennings was supposed to inform IDES of any income he received during the certification period, but he did not report that he was working and did not report the income he earned to IDES, instead choosing to collect both wages and benefits simultaneously. In total, Jennings received $24,337 in unemployment insurance payments to which he was not entitled. Additionally, Jennings was on supervised release for an unrelated matter while committing this crime. This led to the revocation of his supervised release in August 2012, and he was sentenced to an additional year and a day in prison for the violation. Jennings’ term of imprisonment in this case will not begin until after he has served his sentence for the supervised release violation.
This case was 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. This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Katherine L. Lewis.