Department of Labor and Regulation

Title - News

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Media Contact: Dawn Dovre, 605-773-3094

Unemployment Cheaters Convicted

PIERRE, S.D. -- The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation continues to investigate potential fraudulent conduct of unemployment insurance (UI) claimants. In order to be eligible for benefits, claimants must be unemployed, able to work, looking for new work and cannot refuse suitable work when offered.

"Fraudulent activity jeopardizes the integrity of the UI program and its solvency," said State Labor and Regulation Secretary Pam Roberts. "UI benefits are for people who are legitimately eligible."

Blatant cases of unemployment insurance benefit fraud are referred to the Attorney General's Office for prosecution by states attorneys. In the past year, the following people have pled guilty and been convicted:

Claimant Ordered to Repay Sentence  County 
Isabel Bakkers $2,624.72 in restitution and $504.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 10 days of jail time served on house arrest. 2 years of probation. Brown
David Beers $2,519.40 in restitution and $131.05 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 18 month state penitentiary sentence suspended. 180 days jail time suspended. 2 years of probation. Minnehaha
Darin Berger $4,231.30 in restitution and $285.00 in fines and court costs. 60 days in jail suspended. Brown
1 year of probation.
Robert Brooks $4,954.08 in restitution and $334.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 180 days jail time suspended. 360 days of probation. Pennington
Shad Brown $2,972.00 in restitution and $84.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees No jail sentence. 1 year of probation. Custer
Jason Eie $7,014.00 in restitution and $1,104.00 in fines and court costs. 5 days jail time. 2 years of probation. McCook
Herbie Fitzgerald $5,155.08 in restitution and $285.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 60 days jail time suspended. 1 year of probation. Brown
Thomas Ghost Dog $3,817.04 in restitution and $334.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 180 days of jail time suspended. 1 year of probation. Pennington 
Raven McFadden $3,310.80 in restitution and $285.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 90 days jail time suspended. 1 year of probation. Brown
Mike Meinerts $5,137.31 in restitution and $104.00 in fines and court costs. 60 days jail time suspended. 2 years of probation. Minnehaha
Carmen Nelson $3,500.00 in restitution and $285.00 in fines and court costs. 60 days jail time suspended. 1 year of probation. Brown
Keith Phillips $30.65 in restitution and $604.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 90 days jail time suspended. 360 days of probation. Claim paid in full prior to court. Minnehaha
Filmore Richards $3,373.53 in restitution and $104.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 2 year state penitentiary sentence suspended. 12 days jail time served. 2 years of probation Pennington
Amie Vandenhul $27.05 in restitution and $284.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. Claim paid in full prior to court. No jail sentence. 3 years of probation.  Minnehaha
Gottfried Weidmann $5,299.76 in restitution and $104.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 100 days in jail, 54 days suspended. 2 years of probation. Pennington
Ross Wharton $7,800.45 in restitution and $104.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 30 days in jail, 16 days suspended. 1 1/2 years of probation. Davison
Jeremy Wheelhouse $2,832.50 in restitution and $334.00 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 180 days of jail time suspended. Probation is until he has complied with the court’s sentence. Pennington
Christopher Willging $ 4,844.05 in restitution and $100.00 in fines and court costs. 30 days jail time suspended. No probation. Minnehaha
Darin Wright $5,560.20 in restitution and $160.20 in fines and court costs, plus attorney fees. 180 days jail time suspended. 2 years of probation. Minnehaha

"The majority of fraudulent unemployment claims result from claimants continuing to collect benefits after they have returned to work and failed to report their earned wages," said Secretary Roberts.

Claimants who misrepresent information in order to receive benefits must repay all the benefits fraudulently received and also forfeit the right to some future benefits.

To report tips on potential fraud, contact the Division of Unemployment Insurance Benefit Payment Control Unit at 605.626.7649 or unemploymentfraud@state.sd.us.

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Marcia Hultman, Secretary
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2291
Tel. 605.773.3101
Fax. 605.773.6184