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Man pleads guilty to conspiring with former Michigan UIA contractor, stealing $550K in benefits

By Web staff

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    DETROIT, Michigan (WWJ) — A Detroit man pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with a former contract worker from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency and stealing more than $550,000.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says William Haynes, 26, admitted to conspiring with former contract worker, Autumn Mims, who was in charge of reviewing, processing, and verifying unemployment insurance claims.

Haynes is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Nov. 28 and could face up to 20 years in prison. He agreed to pay $448,614 in restitution.

Sentencing for Mims is scheduled for Sept. 6. Mims, who also pleaded guilty, faces a mandatory two-year sentence for identity theft as well as up to 20 years for conspiring in wire fraud.

“We are committed to prosecuting those who engage in schemes to steal public funds,” U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said in a statement. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice, whether they are insiders who abuse their positions of trust or outsiders who enable that abuse.”

Officials say in August 2020, Mims used her position to process fraudulent claims in the names of third parties without their knowledge or authorization.

In is role of the scheme, Haynes altered direct deposits, accessed third-party insurance assistance claims, completed fake certifications, opened unauthorized bank accounts, completed cash withdrawals and financial transactions, and received non-cash benefits such as rent payments made by Mims.

“Add William Haynes to the growing list of fraudsters that UIA’s investigators have identified as brazenly violating the trust Michiganders put in an unemployment system that is their lifeline when they lost work,” said Michigan UIA Director Julia Dale in a statement. “That Mr. Haynes found a willing accomplice within the UIA to help carry out his devious scheme is also appalling. Today’s guilty plea should put bad actors on notice that the UIA won’t tolerate the theft of public funds. Our nearly 50 convictions so far prove they won’t get away with defrauding taxpayers.”

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