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.

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.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of intern Chandra Levy.
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