Michigan unemployment worker charged with stealing money from agency amid record demand

More than 1.5 million Michiganders have filed for unemployment benefits

A Michigan unemployment worker has been charged with stealing money from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency at a time when thousands of residents are still having trouble getting benefits.

More than 1.5 million Michigan residents have filed for unemployment benefits during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the need is so great that many people have had trouble collecting their payments.

The system was crashing early on and simply couldn’t keep up with the massive demand.

READ: FEMA approves Michigan for additional $300 in weekly unemployment payments

Now, officials are investigating a disturbing new twist: employees on the inside stealing from the UIA.

Jermaine Rose, 41, of Detroit, is a claims advisor. He was charged with mail and wire fraud and theft of government funds.

The details of the case were laid out at federal court in Downtown Detroit.

“At a time when thousands of people in Michigan are out of work because of the pandemic, the defendants are charged with stealing unemployment benefits that should have gone to Michiganders trying to feed their families,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement. “Anyone who steals unemployment funds steals form the people of Michigan.”

Rose and another employee, Serenity Poynter 36, of Detroit, are accused of filing almost 100 fraudulent unemployment claims. Investigators said they used Poynter’s name to file the claims and used different social security numbers.

“It’s disheartening that a public servant would abuse the trust of Michiganders because of their own greed, especially during a time when workers need this financial assistance the most,” said Jeffrey Frost, a fraud advisor for the Michigan Department of Labor.

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