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Auburn woman among 6 charged for illegally collecting unemployment benefits

An Auburn woman was among six individuals charged today in U.S. District Court with theft of government funds for illegally collecting thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits while gainfully employed, U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan announced.

Sara Propernick, 27, allegedly claimed unemployment benefits using the name and Social Security number of her boyfriend who was actually incarcerated at the time. Propernick would use the unemployment benefits telephone system to claim benefits each week. She allegedly, fraudulently collected $20,994 between June 2008 and November 2009, Durkan said.

Others charged were: Kimberlynn Chandler, 42, Roderick Payne, 36, and Fio Fio Jr., 36 all from Tacoma; Paul Ryan Shipley, 36, of Lake Stevens; and Daniel Sandoval, 25, of Aguanga, Calif.

The six were identified by investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and the Washington Employment Security Department. The overpayment of benefits ranges from $14,000 for one man, to more than $78,000 for another.

The defendants have been charged by complaint. Some are being sought by law enforcement and others are being summoned to appear in U.S. District Court. Two defendants are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle on June 5.

"For so many people and families, unemployment benefits have kept a roof over their heads and food on the table. Cheaters, such as these defendants, reduce the safety net for those who truly need it," Durkan said. "We will aggressively protect the program."

Theft of government funds is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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