INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - At least 10 former Indianapolis based Internal Revenue Service employees are the targets of state investigators, who claim they schemed to steal thousands of dollars in illegal unemployment benefits. Two of those targeted pleaded guilty to the charges this week.
Carmen Brown, 41, of Indianapolis, who prosecutors say also went by the name Carmen Smith, and Terri Wardell, 48, of Fishers, both pleaded guilty to unemployment insurance fraud charges this week.
According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Brown and Wardell both admitted to receiving unemployment insurance benefits while working full-time for the IRS. Brown illegally received nearly $14,000 in fraudulent benefits and Wardell more than $18,000 in fraudulent benefits, according to the agency.
Other former IRS employees have also been targeted during a year-long joint investigation. They include:
- Tracey L. Lewis, 38, of Indianapolis, who is accused of receiving more than $8,000 in fraudulent benefits.
- Angela Milton, 31, of Avon, who is accused of receiving nearly $40,000 in fraudulent benefits.
- Je-Taun D. Finch, 37, of Indianapolis, who received nearly $8,800 in fraudulent benefits. Finch was sentenced to three years probation in March and ordered to pay restitution.
- Lorita K. Hitler, 37, of Indianapolis, who received more than $4,500 in fraudulent benefits. Hitler was sentenced to two years probation in March and ordered to pay restitution.
- Elizabeth A. Amos, 45, of Indianapolis, who received more than $5,200 in fraudulent benefits. Amos was sentenced to two years probation in March and ordered to pay restitution.
- Sheila M. Hill, 33, of Indianapolis, who received more than $14,200 in fraudulent benefits. Hill was sentenced to three years probation in March and ordered to pay restitution.
- Andrea Y. Jackson, 28, of Indianapolis, who received more than $16,000 in fraudulent benefits. Jackson was found guilty of unemployment fraud, but has not yet been sentenced.
The investigation was launched in early 2012, after the IRS informed the state that it believed several employees were receiving unemployment benefits while working full time for the agency. DWD investigators then used wage reports and new hire data to make their case.
"It does not matter who you are or who you work for. We work diligently to make sure those who take funds they are not eligible for are held accountable," said Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Scott Sanders in a statement following the guilty pleas. "These funds are for Hoosiers truly in need, and we take our job safeguarding these funds very seriously."
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