Three indicted in unemployment-benefits scheme

Unemployment BenefitsJustice SystemCrime, Law and JusticeJobs and WorkplaceUnemployment and LayoffsInsurancePersonal Data Collection

Three Baltimore residents were indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a scheme to claim at least $409,000 in Maryland unemployment benefits, prosecutors said Thursday.

Kevin Bernard Smith and Sheila Denis Willis, both 47, and Shekia Denise Edwards, 25, allegedly filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims using other Marylanders' information, including Social Security numbers, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office said. The people whose information was used had no idea, the office said.

As part of the scheme, according to the office, Smith filed false quarterly reports with the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation "under the names of fictitious Maryland companies, including the Maryland Institute of Charity." This was done to make it appear that the people named in the false unemployment-benefits claims had worked earlier at the companies and would therefore be eligible for jobless assistance, prosecutors said.

An indictment is a formal accusation. The defendants are scheduled to appear Friday in federal court in Baltimore.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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