10 KC-area residents indicted for stealing unemployment benefits
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that 10 Kansas City metropolitan area residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for fraudulently receiving federal unemployment benefits while they were actually employed.
“In this difficult economy, extended unemployment benefits have been a compassionate lifeline to many individuals who are out of work,” Phillips said. “It’s unfortunate that some recipients would brazenly cheat the system that supported them when they needed help. This indictment alleges that week after week, each time they applied to continue receiving benefits, these defendants repeatedly lied in order to steal thousands of dollars from the public.”
“The unemployment insurance program is intended to provide financial assistance to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own,” said James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. “Combating fraud in this program remains a priority for the Office of Inspector General. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to safeguard Department of Labor programs against fraud.”
Curtis Green, 51, Juan D. Rhodes, 53, Synethia McDaniel, 37, Carl W. Peterson, 45, Adrienne Morris, 32, LaTonya Williamson, 37, all of Kansas City, Mo., Scott Wilson, 46, of Independence, Mo., Lisa A. Myers, 41, of Blue Springs, Mo., Derrick Hubbard, 39, of Grandview, Mo., and Stephanie Heard Hair, 33, address unknown, were charged in an indictment that was returned under seal by a federal grand jury on Sept. 20, 2011. That indictment has been unsealed and made public upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants.
Each of the 10 defendants is charged with one count of theft of government property and one count of bank fraud. The indictment alleges that each defendant, acting independently and without any connection to the other nine defendants, fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits while they were actually employed. Those benefits were transferred to MasterCard debit cards issued by Central Bank in Jefferson City, Mo.
According to the indictment, the time frame of the offenses varied among defendants within a three-year period from March 2008 to March 2011. The amount of fraudulent state and federal unemployment benefits alleged in the indictment likewise varied among defendants:
Green – $20,158
Rhodes – $17,397
Myers – $16,235
McDaniel – $14,935
Peterson – $14,423
Morris – $13,611
Hubbard – $13,279
Wilson – $12,484
Williamson – $11,623
Hair – $11,254
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require each defendant to forfeit to the government any property obtained from the proceeds of the alleged offenses.
Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Pansing Brown. It was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Division of Employment Security.