Federal prosecutors today charged six people – three of them from Tacoma and one from Auburn – with collecting thousands in unemployment while they held down jobs.
Illegal payouts ranged from $14,000 to $78,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle reported in a news release.
Authorities are looking for some of the defendants. Others have been summoned to U.S. District Court to answer the charges.
“For so many people and families, unemployment benefits have kept a roof over their heads and food on the table. Cheaters, such as these defendants, reduce the safety net for those who truly need it,” U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in the news release. “We will aggressively protect the program.”
The Tacomans charged were:
• Kimberlynn Chandler, 42. Prosecutors contend she claimed unemployment benefits from November 2009 to September 2010. During that time she was employed by Hawaiian Airlines earning more than $67,000, court records show. Investigators allege she illegally collected $26,038 in unemployment.
• Roderick Payne, 36. Prosecutors contend he claimed unemployment benefits while working as a valet parking attendant at a Bellevue hotel. Between March 2009 and February 2011, Payne is alleged to have claimed $28,154 in fraudulent unemployment benefits.
• Fio Fio, Jr., 36. Prosecutors allege he collected benefits at various times between 2009 and 2011, when he was actually employed. At one point in 2009, Fio was banned from collecting benefits for six months after investigators suspected he was defrauding the government. In 2011, an audit determined Fio was again claiming benefits while employed. The alleged loss is about $15,000.
Auburn resident Sara Propernick, 27, is alleged to have claimed unemployment benefits using the name and social security number of her boyfriend, who was incarcerated. Propernick would use the unemployment benefits telephone system to claim benefits each week, prosecutors said. Between June 2008 and November 2009, Propernick allegedly collected $20,994 in illegal benefits.
Theft of government funds is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The cases were investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector Generaland the Washington State Employment Security Department.