(INDIANAPOLIS) - 47-year-old Elkhart resident Willis Fields pled guilty Friday, in U.S. Northern District Court in South Bend, to felony unemployment insurance fraud. Fields purposefully defrauded the system by collecting unemployment insurance benefits while working full-time.
The investigation began when a Department of Workforce Development (DWD) investigator was alerted that Fields was receiving wages from a full-time job during the weeks he filed for benefits. Using agency records and information from Fields' employer, DWD investigated and was able to verify that Fields did, in fact, work full-time while receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
"The conviction of Mr. Fields demonstrates our commitment to protecting the system that Hoosiers entrust us with," said Scott B. Sanders, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. "We take this responsibility seriously and will continue to work toward the successful prosecution of fraud to the fullest extent of the law."
Fields was sentenced to three years probation, but will serve the time in prison if he violates the conditions of his plea agreement. He must repay DWD $27,610.00 for the benefits he fraudulently collected.
Each month DWD sends employers a notice documenting their charges for former employees' unemployment insurance benefits. This provides employers an opportunity to dispute claims for unemployment insurance benefits.
You can also help combat unemployment insurance fraud and abuse by reporting it online at www.in.gov/dwd/fraud. Your efforts will help ensure tax dollars are spent wisely and unemployment insurance benefits are only paid to people who are eligible to receive them. You do not need to provide your name or any other identifying information in order to file a complaint in regards to unemployment insurance fraud.
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