CHICAGO | Two south suburban residents are among 32 Illinois people indicted on federal charges related to receiving false unemployment benefits, Gary S. Shapiro, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced Wednesday.
Named in the indictment are Gregory Thrasher, 35, of Calumet City, and Olympia Love, 31, of Flossmoor. Love is accused of claiming $26,562 in fraudulent unemployment benefits while Thrasher is accused of claiming $25,240.
Among all the defendants, the Illinois Department of Employment Security was defrauded of nearly $874,000, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.
The defendants allegedly applied for unemployment insurance benefits, falsely certified their continuing eligibility to receive payments and fraudulently collected benefits for which they were not entitled while gainfully employed in various occupations, the release stated. The felony theft counts carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory.
“The unemployment insurance program is intended to provide financial assistance to workers who are unemployed due to no fault of their own,” said James Vanderberg, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who allegedly engage in fraudulent schemes against this and other Department of Labor programs.”
“Stealing money from the unemployment insurance program is a crime against every taxpayer in Illinois and must not be tolerated," said Jay Rowell, IDES director. "The allegations that a few individuals schemed to line their pockets at the expense of others is outrageous.”
The U.S. attorney’s office cooperated with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General to conduct the investigation.