Ex-Michigan UIA worker says he approved false claims in return for money

43-year-old man pleads guilty in pandemic benefits fraud scheme

A former member of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a scheme designed to award pandemic-era benefits to people submitting false claims.

Ex-lead claims examiner for the MUIA Jermaine Rose, 43, pleaded guilty on April 21, after being charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

The man reportedly had electronic access to the MUIA claims database, and had the authority to approve specific claims. Officials say that, according to plea agreement documents, Rose made an agreement with a number of people to submit false unemployment claims in return for money.

“Rose’s co-conspirators would electronically submit fraudulent claims to MUIA in the names of various individuals, some of whom would be victims of identity theft and some of whom were entirely fictitious people. These co-conspirators would make various false statements in the applications attesting to the eligibility of these purported claimants, and would often upload fictitious documentation to support those fraudulent claims,” a DOJ press release reads Friday. “The co-conspirators would then communicate with Rose, either directly or through intermediaries, and identify the claims that they had submitted. Rose would then use his insider access to the MUIA system to approve the claims and release benefits. Most of the time, benefits would be electronically loaded onto Bank of America debit cards and mailed to addresses controlled by Rose’s co-conspirators.”

The Michigan man was reportedly paid between $50 and $150 for each claim that he approved. Officials say false claims were often sent in bulk.

Rose admitted that his actions caused a loss of between $500,000 and $1,500,000, officials said -- though an exact number was not provided. He is set to be sentenced on July 21.

“The theft of pandemic unemployment insurance benefits is always a serious crime,” said U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison. “The fact that an employee of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency facilitated this theft makes it all the more outlandish. The conduct here was a major breach of the public trust, and my office is committed to bringing all those who abuse the public trust by participating in Covid-19 fraud schemes to justice.”

You can read the DOJ’s entire press release below.

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.