CHICAGO – Jay Rowell, Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), issued the following statement today after U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office announced criminal charges alleging unemployment insurance fraud. The IDES brought the case to federal prosecutors and provided detailed analysis critical to the investigation and subsequent charges.
“The Department of Employment Security officially is considered a victim in this case, but the real crime is against the millions of hard-working Illinoisans and the business owners who employ them. The allegations that a few individuals connived to line their pockets at the expense of others down on their luck is outrageous.
“Unemployment insurance payments help families across the state when they need it the most. The dollars are spent in local groceries, corner gas stations, and neighborhood stores, further helping that local economy. Those benefit dollars are paid for by the business owners in our state, who realize a robust safety net helps workers and small businesses in challenging economic times. Benefit fraud actually harms our recovery and must not be tolerated.
“I applaud Mr. Fitzgerald and his staff for their hard work and perseverance in this wide-ranging scandal. The IDES will continue to use every available tool, and create new ones when appropriate, to protect taxpayer dollars and put our residents back to work.”
Federal prosecutors allege 15 individuals schemed to defraud the IDES and others of $8.7 million. Had the fraud not been identified, the loss for IDES could have reached $30 million. Specifics of the criminal investigation and prosecution should be directed to Mr. Fitzgerald’s office.