8 accused of stealing unemployed vets benefits

December 21, 2009

A federal grand jury in Denver has indicted eight current or former Colorado Springs residents on charges they filed false claims for unemployment money due to veterans.

The eight – seven of whom have been arrested – allegedly filed about 200 false claims for $214,000 from November 2006 to January 2008.

Five of the defendants are in the military, but they are accused of using the names of friends and relatives to file the claims and pocket the money, said Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Named in the indictment were: Earl L. Hall, Renita L. Blunt, Eric G. Adams, Conslyn L. Hall, Jermaine L. Hall, Terrance R. Wray, Demetrius L. Harper, and Corey D. Ladson.

Authorities arrested six of the defendants without incident last week. Eric Adams is currently in custody in the El Paso County Jail. They are scheduled for arraignment in U.S. District Court this week. Earl Hall remains at large.

The indictment was handed up on Dec. 15 and unsealed the next day after the arrests were made.

All eight have been charged with conspiracy and multiple counts of receipt of stolen government property in amounts ranging from $395 to $910. Eric Hall also faces one count of aggravated identity theft.

The funds they are accused of tapping into were meant for former members of the military. The indictment accused them of filing false claims in which the defendants used their own names or the names of family members or fictitious names.

They also allegedly submitted false information on social security numbers, dates of birth, military service dates, rank, pay grade and type of military service.

If convicted, the defendants could face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charges and 10 years each on receipt of stolen property plus fines of up to $250,000. Eric Hall would face up to two additional years on the identity theft charge if found guilty.

In a news release, U.S. Attorney David Gaouette said stealing money that was intended for unemployed veterans not only criminal but “totally inexcusable.”

 For more court coverage, go to the Sidebar blog at Gazette.com





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