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Press Release

Guilty Plea Entered In Department Of Labor Fraud Case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On June 4, 2014, Ronald T. Wolfenbarger, 46, of Knoxville, Tenn., pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with theft of government funds. Sentencing for is set for 10:00 a.m. Oct. 6, 2014. He faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release upon their release from prison.

According to the plea agreement on file with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Wolfenbarger received unemployment benefits from the State of Tennessee unemployment program. These unemployment benefits were supplemented with federal funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which authorized 100 percent federal funding for unemployment benefits that he qualified for and received. An internal audit determined that he was overpaid unemployment benefits after failing to report employment and earnings from his employer, violating the policies and procedures for receiving unemployment benefits. In his plea agreement, Wolfenbarger admitted to obtaining unemployment insurance benefits to which he was unentitled.

Unemployment benefits are designed to assist those who qualify under specific policies and procedures. Unemployment benefits fraud is a serious offense. Individuals who take advantage of this benefit program through theft, fraud, and lies, effectuated by hiding earnings, may be prosecuted and face both terms in prison and fines.

This charge and subsequent guilty plea are the result of an investigation by DOL-Office of Inspector General and Tennessee Department of Labor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brooklyn Sawyers represents the United States.

Members of the public are reminded that an information constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until his or her guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 18, 2015