Five indicted in unemployment fraud sweep

Five defendants have been indicted for allegedly collecting more than $159,000 in fraudulent unemployment benefits, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced Monday, April 22.

The sweep the result of investigations by IDES and the Attorney General’s office. The indictment charges the defendants with certifying they were unemployed to collect weekly benefits in spite of already being employed.

“Unemployment insurance is meant to help people who truly need assistance as they search for work,” Madigan said. “But week after week, sometimes for years at a time, these individuals claimed they were unemployed and needed financial assistance when, in fact, they were simultaneously collecting a paycheck at work.”

Madigan filed charges of theft of government property, a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years in prison, and state benefits fraud and wire fraud, Class 3 felonies punishable by two to five years in prison, against the five defendants.

In each case, the defendant falsely verified they were unemployed through the IDES phone or online verification system to access taxpayer-funded assistance during their supposed unemployment. Investigations by the department and Madigan’s office revealed the defendants were, in fact, employed and should not have received benefits or the level of benefits they claimed.

Fraudulent claims made by the defendants spanned from 2009 through 2012. Prosecutors charged five defendants in Cook County, alleging the following:

• Barbara Gary, 53, of Chicago, collected more than $26,000 in fraudulent benefits;

• Ron Gilmore, 50, of Chicago, collected more than $28,000 in fraudulent benefits;

• Carl Huff, 44, of Chicago, collected more than $49,000 in fraudulent benefits;

• James Jones, 48, of Chicago, collected more than $23,000 in fraudulent benefits; and

• Eunice Tinger, 36, of Calumet City, collected more than $31,000 in fraudulent benefits.

The indictments followed an announcement in 2012 of a partnership between Madigan’s office and IDES to provide two assistant attorneys general to investigate and prosecute unemployment benefits fraud. Madigan said these attorneys have provided critical support to the state’s efforts to recoup taxpayer dollars obtained by fraud and criminal conduct.

Assistant Attorneys General Robin Murphy and John Walz are handling the cases for Madigan’s Financial Crimes Prosecution Unit.