WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia Attorney General Irv Nathan has filed lawsuits against 13 former or current D.C. government workers accused of improperly using unemployment compensation when they were gainfully employed.
According to a media advisory released by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's office on Thursday:
The lawsuits seek to recover amounts wrongfully paid to these individuals ranging from $4,320 to $13,790. The individuals work or have worked for various agencies across the D.C. government. Some of them have been subject to disciplinary actions, including termination, where appropriate. As the city’s Department of Employment Services continues its inquiry into these cases, it will continue to refer matters to the Office of the D.C. Inspector General. That office is responsible for determining which of these cases should be referred to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for possible criminal prosecution, or to the Office of the Attorney General for civil action.
Some employees or former employees may agree to repay amounts that were collected fraudulently, avoiding the need for civil collections efforts. These employees remain subject to disciplinary measures.
"Those who have defrauded the District government must be held accountable for their actions," noted Mayor Vincent C. Gray. "These suits are part of that process, and I want to commend the Attorney General for moving quickly and seeking repayment."
Attorney General Nathan said, "Our office will take all legal actions available to it to recover any monies owed to the District in these inexcusable fraud cases."
The lawsuits were filed in D.C. Superior Court and the investigation into the alleged fraud is continuing.
News of the investigation into unemployment fraud first broke in February when The Washington Post reported that 90 city employees had been suspended in the matter.
As the Post reported at the time:
[February]’s action, which follows at least three years of scrutiny from local and federal authorities, represents an unusually broad crackdown on corruption in the District government workforce. The volume of benefits claims has soared alongside the District’s jobless rate, and investigators have taken an increasing interest in how the unemployment program guards against fraud.
But the scope of the alleged fraud has grown since then. Nearly 300 current or former D.C. government employees have been implicated in the alleged unemployment fraud, including D.C. Council staffers, WAMU-FM reported in May.