Dozens Of D.C. Workers May Lose Jobs Over Alleged Unemployment Fraud
Dozens of city workers in the nation's capital have been suspended, and face possible dismissal and prosecution for allegedly drawing unemployment benefits while still working.
Nearly 90 Washington, D.C., employees were suspended Monday while the investigation proceeds, The Washington Post reports, citing District of Columbia officials. Another 40 former city workers who cashed checks they weren't entitled to also face prosecution.
The investigation showed that the city paid out about $800,000 in unemployment benefits to working city employees since 2009. Citing privacy restrictions, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's office declined to release the names of the workers.
According to the Post, some employees received $20,000 or more, while others received only a few hundred dollars. The District of Columbia's government employs about 32,000 workers.
The workers' scam wasn't complicated or unusual, the newspaper notes. The accused workers simply didn't make authorities aware that they had returned to work after a period of unemployment and continued to draw the benefits.
"Some are people who come in and out of government and never stopped [receiving unemployment checks]. Some may have worked in parts of an agency where for the summer months you don't work," said Lisa Mallory, director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, which oversees the jobless benefits program in the District.
There was no clear pattern to the fraud, Mallory said. "It's just a matter of certifying you aren't receiving income when you are receiving income."
The probe began last spring after "serious concerns" about the way in which the program had been administered during the last few years, the city government said in a statement, according to Reuters.
The allegations that city employees "double dipped" to pad their paychecks is the latest controversy to hit the city.
Last month, D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. resigned after being charged with embezzling city funds and filing false tax returns, and a plan to bring Internet gambling to the city is likely to be repealed after an Inspector General's report raised concern about the awarding of a contract to the city's lottery vendor.
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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