DETROIT (CBS Detroit / AP) – A former Michigan state contractor has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for helping orchestrate a $ 3.8 million fraud scheme involving money intended to help the unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic .
On Thursday, a judge in the U.S. District Court in Detroit sentenced Brandi Hawkins, 40, to 58 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay $ 3,793,186 in restitution to the state.
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The Detroit woman, who was a former Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency contract worker, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in June. Hawkins was billed last year and admitted receiving bribes from people to file fraudulent unemployment insurance claims from April to June 2020, often using stolen identities.
The program brought in $ 3.8 million in state and federal aid earmarked for unemployment relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Hawkins spent money on high-end handbags and other luxury goods and investigators recovered more than $ 200,000 from his home in a federal raid.
“Hawkins exploited the pandemic to defraud the state of Michigan and the United States for his own personal gain,” Acting US Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement. “This phrase should send a message to those looking to embezzle funds for those in need during what has been a very difficult time of unemployment – you will be sued.”
Court records show Hawkins was fired from her job in the state in June 2020, but continued to access state systems remotely.
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