Former Michigan Contractor Gets 5 Years For Unemployment Insurance Fraud – CBS Detroit

DETROIT (CBS Detroit / AP) – A former Michigan state contractor was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for helping orchestrate a $ 3.8 million fraud program with funds to assist the unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, a U.S. District Court judge in Detroit sentenced 40-year-old Brandi Hawkins to 58 months in federal prison and ordered her to repay $ 3,793,186 to the state.

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The Detroit woman, who was a former contract employee with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, pleaded guilty in June of referring fraud allegations. Hawkins was charged last year, admitting taking bribes from individuals to filing fraudulent unemployment insurance claims from April to June 2020, often using stolen identities.

The program raised $ 3.8 million in state and federal aid for unemployment relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Hawkins spent bribes on high-quality handbags and other luxury items, and investigators seized more than $ 200,000 from her home during a federal raid.

“Hawkins took advantage of the pandemic to defraud the state of Michigan and the United States for their personal gain,” incumbent US attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement. “This judgment should send a message to those who are trying to divert funds to those in need during a very difficult period of unemployment – you will be prosecuted.”

Court records show that Hawkins was fired from her government contract work in June 2020 but continues to remotely access government systems.

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