Detroit man conspires with Michigan unemployment worker to steal thousands in pandemic relief

Johnny Richardson pleads guilty

Michigan unemployment.

DETROIT – A Detroit man conspired with a Michigan unemployment worker to steal thousands of dollars intended to help people who lost jobs due to the COVID pandemic.

Johnny Richardson, 26, of Detroit, conspired with Brandi Hawkins and others in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of unemployment dollars from five states, according to authorities.

Hawkins is a former contract employee for the state of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency. She pleaded guilty in the scheme last month, officials said.

Richardson, either himself or through others, filed fraudulent unemployment claims over the internet in at least five states and stole at least $683,555 in funds intended for unemployment assistance during the pandemic, according to federal officials.

Feds said Richardson provided information on Michigan claims to Hawkins, who would use her insider access to release payments on the fake claims.

Richardson pleaded guilty Tuesday (July 6) and is scheduled to be sentenced at 11 a.m. Nov. 9, officials said.

Another person charged in the scheme, Micahia Taylor, is scheduled for a plea hearing at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 10.

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.