COLUMBUS, OHIO – A Cinncinati area woman was Indicted today after taking bribes to change people to eligible to steal COVID monies from the State.
Donesha Shepard, a former ODJFS intermittent employee, and
three co-defendants on charges of theft tampering with records, telecommunications fraud, and bribery. All felonies of the third degree were indicted today.
“We are pleased with news of the indictment of four individuals in conjunction with fraud in the pandemic unemployment assistance program. This is not a victimless crime. These individuals allegedly stole from taxpayers. Fraud schemes also harmed legitimate unemployment claimants who were hurting during the pandemic by making it harder to receive needed benefits in a timely fashion. When we discovered that
individuals like these may have been illegally abusing their access to our systems, we took immediate action to stop it and work with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute it. We thank all those agencies
who helped bring this about and will continue working to ensure more criminals are brought to justice,” said Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Director Matt Damschroder
According to the Hamilton County indictment, Shepard would help release COVID Funds for a price, she helped family and friends receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funds by approving claims after being paid to do so. She removed fraud holds, and denial of benefits for people who were ineligible, offering the service on Facebook. In total 800,000 dollars was wrongfully released.
Shepard was fired in August of 2021, she was arrested after being indicted and did not have a bond to get out of jail.