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Six St. Louis area people indicted for falsley claiming unemployment benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2012

St. Louis, MO - Six area people have been indicted in separate cases for fraudulently receiving federal unemployment benefits while they were employed. According to the indictments, the time frame of the offenses varied among defendants within a three-year period from 2008 through 2010.

"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.

BRYAN A. COBBS, PAMELA LEE CLARK, MONIQUE DARCELL FAULKNER, MARK D. MERRIWETHER and DEREK A. SHAEFFER, all of St. Louis, and REGINALD TERRANCE OWENS, Florissant, MO, were each indicted on one felony count of theft of government property.

The amounts of fraudulent state and federal unemployment benefits received by them as alleged in the indictments are as follows:

  • Cobbs - $24,099
  • Clark - $26,648
  • Faulkner - $16,550
  • Merriwether - $16,727
  • Owens - $18,630
  • Shaeffer - $21,013

Additionally, upon a finding of guilt, the defendants will be subject to a forfeiture allegation, which will require them to forfeit to the government all money derived from their illegal activity.

If convicted, theft of government property carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney James E. Crowe, Jr. is handling the cases for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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