INDIANAPOLIS (October 28, 2010) - Acting upon an initial investigation and referral to the federal government from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the U.S Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Indiana this week announced the indictment of six Hoosiers accused of committing unemployment insurance fraud.
"The Department of Workforce Development takes unemployment insurance fraud very seriously," said Mark W. Everson, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. "This agency investigates, seeks repayment and partners with local and federal prosecutors to file charges when the fraud rises to a criminal level. In 2009, the department identified nearly four million dollars in unemployment insurance fraud."
Below is the news release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
United States Attorney David Capp
Northern District of Indiana
5400 Federal Plaza, Suite 1500
Hammond, IN 46320
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Mary L. Hatton
October 26, 2010 PHONE: (219) 937-5603
www.usdoj.gov/usao/inn/ <http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/inn/> Fax: (219) 852-2770
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FRAUD CASES UNSEALED
Hammond, IN- Six separate indictments were unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Each indictment charges the following individuals with one count of theft of federal funds and one count of wire fraud:
Mark Culp, 39, of the 7600 block of E. 1100 N, Monticello, Indiana
Joseph Sloma, 32, of the 1300 block of W. Indiana Avenue, South Bend, Indiana
Melissa Sloop, 42, of the 21900 block of County Road 40, Goshen, Indiana
Timothy Smith, 44, of Lafayette, Indiana
Brandon Hinkle, 32, of the 800 block of East 35th Place, Gary, Indiana
Matthew Johnson, 34, of the 300 block of Walnut Street, Crown Point, Indiana
The charges arise out of 6 months investigation of fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits filed with the State of Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The indictments alleged that the individuals collected unemployment benefits to which they were not entitled to because they were employed when they collected these benefits.
The benefits consisted of a combination of State of Indiana unemployment insurance funds and federal funds available to unemployed workers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by Congress in February of 2009.
The total amount of the alleged fraud is approximately $134,000. The amount of federal funds fraud is approximately $79,000.
Daniel R. Petrole, Acting Inspector General, United States Department of Labor, stated: "Combating fraud in the Unemployment Insurance program is a priority for my office. We will continue to safeguard Department of Labor programs against fraud. I would like to thank the Indiana Department of Workforce Development for their efforts in this investigation."
These charges were filed as the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor OIG - Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. These cases have been assigned to and will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gary Bell, Toi Houston, Thomas Ratcliffe, and Jill Trumbull-Harris.
The United States Attorney's Office emphasized that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The specific sentence in each case to be imposed upon conviction will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
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