Ypsilanti Woman Charged with Stealing Unemployment Insurance Benefits
An Ypsilanti resident was arraigned today on a nineteen-count indictment charging her with identity theft, mail fraud, theft, and conspiracy charges, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge James Vanderberg, U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General, and Steve Arwood, Director, Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Tamara Smith, 25, appeared in federal court this afternoon before a magistrate judge where she was released on bond. According to the indictment, Smith created a fictitious company, First Priority, for the sole purpose of obtaining over $250,000.00 in unemployment insurance benefits to which she and others were not entitled.
Specifically, Smith is alleged to have initiated unemployment insurance benefit claims related to First Priority in her own name, and in the name of other individuals. Smith submitted these claims to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency knowing those claims contained false and fraudulent information.
"People who willfully commit unemployment insurance fraud should know that the state of Michigan and the Unemployment Insurance Agency are serious about detecting and preventing fraud," said Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Steve Arwood. "Unemployment insurance fraud is a crime that affects everyone, by driving up taxes for businesses and threatening the integrity of the unemployment insurance system for those who really need it. We appreciate the great work of the U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General in working with us to investigate and bring these cases to justice."
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, in conjunction with the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, Fraud Unit. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Salzenstein.