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Five Southlanders charged with cheating unemployment

Updated: February 25, 2013 12:49PM



Five Southland residents are among 32 Chicago-area people facing federal charges of fraudulently obtaining thousands of dollars each in unemployment benefits from the state of Illinois, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

Those charged either falsely claimed to be unemployed or underreported their income to collect more in benefits, according to federal indictments. Defendants fraudulently received between $19,399 and $38,798 each, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The total loss for the Illinois Department of Employment Security came to nearly $874,000, the U.S. Attorney’s office alleged in the separate indictments.

Those charged with felony theft of federal funds, and the amounts they allegedly collected fraudulently, include Eric Cribbs, 40, of Matteson ($20,423); Nicole Howell, 40, of Park Forest ($25,985); Olympia Love, 31, of Flossmoor ($26,562); Courtney Smith, 41, of Lockport ($31,055); and Loretta Washington, 35, of Alsip ($29,685), the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In each case, restitution is mandatory if there is a conviction, and the felony charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The investigation concluded Tuesday and involved the U.S. Attorney’s office, U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Postal Service.

From staff reports



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