Prosecutors charge 14 area residents with stealing unemployment benefits

Federal prosecutors charged 14 Washington area residents Thursday with stealing more than $250,000 in unemployment benefits from the District.

The defendants, who were arrested Thursday, were each charged with first-degree felony fraud. Each charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and financial penalties.

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The U.S. attorney’s office said that each defendant is accused of submitting fraudulent claims for unemployment compensation to the D.C. Department of Employment Services. Prosecutors said each defendant received between $13,000 and $23,000. Prosecutors said the defendants were employed when they applied for the benefits.

Arrested and charged were District residents Jeffrey Barton, 46; Crystal Hamlin, 41; Laurence Liggins, 46; Sean Pettitus, 44; Donna Queen, 35; and Anthony White, 48; Alhagi Jabbie, 36, Joseph Sackie, 53, and Erica Smith, 44, all of Silver Spring; Karentina McCoy, 39, and Cherylene Smith, 54, both of Suitland; Charlene Adams, 48, of Stafford County; Joyce Garnes, 63, of Hyattsville; and Shaunte Kent, 31, of Middle River, Md.

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