The Department of Justice just announced that an Illinois man, Devontae Stokes, admitted to fraudulently obtaining unemployment insurance benefits (“UIB”) while incarcerated at a New Jersey federal correctional institution. According to court documents, from April 2020 to December 2020, Stokes and his conspirators devised a scheme to use the personal identification information (“PII”) of several individuals to secure unemployment insurance benefits provided through the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). 

The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) program to provide assistance to individuals who were self-employed, independent contractors, and not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance benefits. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“FPUA”) program provided an additional $600 per week to the foregoing individuals. Stokes and his conspirators communicated via wire to devise their scheme to exploit the PUA and FPUA programs, submit several UIB claims, and obtain over $140,000 in benefits from State Workforce Agencies.

On April 7, 2022, Stokes pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and he faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of at least $250,000, and forfeiture pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 981(a)(l)(C), and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2461(c). Stokes is scheduled to be sentenced on August 23, 2022.

The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection with white-collar criminal investigations and health care fraud investigations. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.