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Alabama Department of Labor Obtaining Convictions for Unemployment Compensation Fraud

September 12, 2018

Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 12, 2018

Alabama Department of Labor Obtaining Convictions for Unemployment Compensation Fraud
MONTGOMERY – Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that the Department has successfully prosecuted several Alabamians for unemployment compensation fraud. The following individuals were charged with a misdemeanor violation of the Alabama Unemployment Compensation Law by making false statements in claims for benefits:

• Kevin B. Owens, of Thomasville, was tried in Clare County District Court on July 19, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that Owens received a total of $1,833 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Owens pled guilty and was sentenced to one year in jail, which was suspended, and placed on one year of probation. He was also ordered to pay court costs, and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.

• Kimberly A. Johnson, of Slocumb, was tried in Geneva County District Court on June 6, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that Johnson received a total of $3,198 in benefits to which she was not entitled.

Johnson pled guilty and was placed in a pre-trial diversion program. She was ordered to pay court costs and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.

• Jerome Gunter, of Montgomery, was tried in Montgomery County District Court on August 27, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that Gunter received a total of $5,346 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Gunter pled guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which was suspended, and placed on one year of unsupervised probation. He was also ordered to pay court costs and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.

• Jared D. Tatum, of Montgomery, was tried in Montgomery County Circuit Court on July 27, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that Tatum received a total of $1,843 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Tatum pled guilty and was placed in a pre-trial diversion program and was placed on two years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a victim’s assessment fee, court costs, and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.
• William Weakley, of Decatur, was tried in Morgan County Circuit Court on June 7, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that Weakley received a total of $3,053 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Weakley pled guilty and was sentenced to two years in jail, which was suspended for three years, and placed on three years of unsupervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a victim’s assessment fee, court costs, and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.

• Larry D. Steele, of Tuscaloosa, was tried in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court on July 17, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that Steele received a total of $3,225 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Steele pled guilty and was sentenced to one year in jail, and placed on two years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a victim’s assessment fee, court costs, and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.

• Ronnie St. John, of Berry, was tried in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court on July 16, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that St. John received a total of $4,344 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

St. John pled guilty and was sentenced to one year in jail, which was suspended, and placed on two years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a victim’s assessment fee, court costs, and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.


The following individual was charged with Theft of Property, Second Degree:

• Billy R. Rice, of Huntsville, was tried in Madison County Circuit Court on August 9, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that Rice received a total of $2,249 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Rice pled guilty to Theft of Property, 4th Degree, and was sentenced to one year in jail, which was suspended for two years, and given two years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a victim’s assessment fee, court costs, and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.

The following individual was charged with Theft by Deception, 1st Degree:

• Sadie M. Bias, of Sylvania, was tried in DeKalb County Circuit Court on August 2, 2018. An investigation by Labor’s Benefit Payment Control Section determined that Bias received a total of $2,686 in benefits to which she was not entitled.

Bias pled guilty to Theft of Property, 4th Degree, and was sentenced to two years in jail, which was suspended for two years, and given two years of supervised probations. She was also ordered to pay court costs and restitution in the amount of benefits received illegally.

“Unemployment compensation benefits can serve as a lifeline to those who truly need them,” said Washington. “However, we want to send a message to those who would knowingly defraud the system in order to obtain benefits they aren’t entitled to: This is a crime and you will be prosecuted.”

“Our investigators are continuously working with local District Attorney Offices in order to identify and prosecute those individuals who are committing these crimes. I would also like to remind employers that their timely reporting of new hires is one of the best tools we have to prevent unemployment fraud.”

Suspected unemployment compensation fraud may be reported to the Alabama Department of Labor by calling 1-800-392-8019.

Employers may find more information regarding reporting new hires at http://www.labor.alabama.gov/nh.
The Alabama Department of Labor / The Alabama Career Center System is a partner in Alabama Works, Alabama’s unified workforce system.

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Members of the media needing more information should contact Tara Hutchison at 334-242-8616 / tara.hutchison@labor.alabama.gov


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