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Press Release

Three Cleveland Men Accused of Defrauding States out of $233,000 in Unemployment Insurance

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

A 22-count federal indictment was filed charging three individuals with conspiring to defraud states out of $233,000 in unemployment insurance benefits, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Indicted are: Arthur Obleton, 62, Oltheus Hill, 53, and James Smith, 32, all of Cleveland. The charges include conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

The indictment alleges that the defendants executed a “fictitious employer” scheme from about October 2011 to August 2013. Under this scheme, the defendants submitted false paperwork to states’ unemployment-insurance offices in which the defendants registered employers that did not actually exist and reported non-existent earnings for fictitious employees. The defendants then submitted false claims for unemployment-insurance benefits of the purported employees. In doing so, the defendants stole and used actual individuals’ personal identifying information that the defendants had obtained through misrepresentations.

The indictment charges that as a result of this scheme, approximately $233,830 in fraudulent unemployment benefits were paid from Illinois ($134,383), Iowa ($80,781) and and California ($18,666).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert W. Kern, M. Kendra Klump, and James Morford following an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, if any, the defendants’ role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 18, 2015