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Press Release

Le Mars Man Pleads Guilty to COVID-19 Related Unemployment Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Chinn falsely underreported his income to receive COVID-19 unemployment funds.

A Le Mars, Iowa man who stole government funds using a COVID-19 unemployment scheme pled guilty today in federal court in Sioux City.

Dennis George Chinn, age 54, from Le Mars, Iowa, was convicted of theft of government funds.

In a plea agreement, Chinn admitted to falsely reporting his income, stating it was $150 per week so he could get an additional $600 weekly payment, and fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits related to COVID-19 relief funds to which he was not entitled.  In total, Chinn obtained over $13,000 in COVID-19 pandemic CARES Act Iowa unemployment funds. 

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Chinn remains free on bond pending sentencing.  Chinn faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ron Timmons and was investigated by the United States Department of Labor and the Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Rooting out COVID-19 fraud is a priority of the Department of Justice. On March 27, 2020, the President signed the CARES Act, which provides emergency assistance to individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased unemployment benefits.

These prosecutions are an example of the Department of Justice’s strong commitment to combating fraud and criminal activity related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at:

Court file information at

The case file number is 20-CR-4082.

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Updated September 25, 2020

Financial Fraud