LaGrange man charged in unemployment fraud case
Updated: February 5, 2013 6:06PM
CHICAGO — A LaGrange man is among 32 Chicago area men charged with fraudulently obtaining thousands of dollars each in unemployment benefits from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, federal officials announced Wednesday.
Manuel Nieves, 35, of an undisclosed address in LaGrange, is accused with 31 other defendants of lying about their eligibility for benefits by either falsely claiming to be unemployed or under reporting their income. The fraudulently obtained benefits ranged from $19,399 to $38,798, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois.
Nieves allegedly defrauded IDES out of $25,216.
The combined loss totaled nearly $874,000 for the IDES, the report claims. Twenty-seven other defendants, mostly Chicago residents, face felony theft of federal funds charges.
The investigation concluded Jan. 22, according to federal officials, and involved the local U.S. Attorney’s office, the US Department of Labor and the U.S. Postal Service.
“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 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.”
In each case, restitution is mandatory and the felony theft counts carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The misdemeanor theft counts carry a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.