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Big Thicket Messenger - Local News
Stories Added - August 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company

Unemployment fraud

Big Thicket Messenger - August 2009

Efforts by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) led to more than $460,000 in restitution orders for the first half of 2009. The orders resulted from statewide criminal prosecutions for Unemployment Insurance (UI) fraud.  These funds will be returned to the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund from which TWC pays UI benefits to those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
TWC investigates and refers cases to local district attorney offices in which unemployment insurance benefits are obtained through fraud or deception. TWC’s efforts have resulted in nearly $4 million returned to the state’s trust fund during the three-year period from 2006 to 2008.
Three cases were prosecuted in Polk County during that period.
On December 3, 2008, William C. Sylestine, 39, received five-years deferred adjudication probation from the 411th District Court on the charge of state jail felony securing execution of document by deception. Sylestine was order to make $8,183 restitution and pay court costs of $287.
On April 30, 2008, David L. Reeves III, 30, received two years deferred adjudication probation from the 411th District Court on the charge of state jail felony securing execution of document by deception. Reeves was order to make $6,699 restitution, to pay a $1,000 fine, and to perform 80 hours community service.
On September 29, 2008, Grover E. Adkinson, 47, received five years deferred adjudication probation from the 258th District Court on the charge of state jail felony securing execution of document by deception. Adkinson was ordered to make $11,498 restitution, to pay a $500 fine and $282 court costs, and to perform 180 hours community service.
In the Greater Houston area, 39 individuals were prosecuted for UI fraud and ordered to pay $228,866 in restitution for fraudulent UI claims this year. Thirty-seven of these prosecutions were in Harris County, one was in Matagorda County and one was in Fort Bend County.
For a list of recent criminal cases, go to www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/bnftsprosecutiondispo.html.
“Everyone pays the price when people choose to cheat the system,” said TWC Chairman Tom Paulken. “These cases demonstrate the results of agency wide systems implemented to detect and prevent fraud.”
The TWC regularly cross matches UI claims with employer wage reports and other databases to detect possible UI fraud. Examples of UI fraud include giving false information and failure to report self-employment or other earnings while receiving UI benefits.
To report suspected fraud, call the TWC Fraud and Program Abuse hot line at (800) 252-3642.

Otto urges Congress to say ‘no’ to government health care

Representative John Otto (R-Dayton) signed onto an official letter from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to Congressional leaders, which was delivered on July 29, expressing the will of more than 1,800 state legislators opposing federal reform efforts – particularly, the Medicare-modeled “public plan” and a national health insurance exchange—which will trample states’ rights and lead Americans down the road to single payer health care.
“I support reforming medical insurance coverage and cutting out the waste and fraud from the current system, estimated to be in the billions of dollars per year. I cannot support the federal government becoming the decision maker for all health related issues,” Otto said.
The members of ALEC –the nation’s largest nonpartisan, individual membership association of state legislators—recently approved the Resolution on Preserving States’ Rights Regarding Federal Health Insurance Exchanges and a Public Plan, which deems the federal public plan and competitive and calls the proposed national health insurance exchange a “federal takeover” of the states’ role in regulating health insurance.
“The government will never compete unless it can change the rules to win,” says Iowa Representative Linda Upmeyer, minority whip, family nurse practitioner, and chair of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force.
“It’s an unlevel playing field when a public plan can shift costs to our state’s private insurers because of low doctor and hospital reimbursement rates, and then raid the federal Treasury for unlimited subsidies,” she added.
In the ALEC letter to Congress, ALEC’s lawmakers criticized the federal push to shift health care decision making to Washington.
“We all share the goal that patients deserve to choose their own quality, affordable, private health coverage,” the letter states. “But health reform shouldn’t be the job of the federal government.”
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, individual membership organization of state legislators.



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