Guilty plea yields 8-year sentence and restitution for parolee charged in pandemic unemployment insurance scam
Jan. 25, 2023 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today announced that Dawn Marie Jones, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of cybercrime theft, a class 4 felony, and one count of filing a false tax return, a class 5 felony, for fraudulently obtaining $35,761 in unemployment benefits from the state’s unemployment assistance program from May 2020 through September 2021.
An Arapahoe County District Court Judge sentenced Jones to eight years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, which will run concurrent to her parole revocation. Jones also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $35,761 to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and $971 to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
“With this action, we continue to hold to account those who defrauded the state’s unemployment insurance system. The task force has increased coordination between state and federal partners, and ongoing collaboration will allow state investigators to work directly with prosecutors around the state to investigate and prosecute these complex cases,” Weiser said.
Last fall, Jones was indicted by the statewide grand jury on eight counts for filing a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim with CDLE on May 19, 2020, and for continuing to provide false information in support of her ongoing claim that resulted in payments she was not entitled to receive.
According to the indictment, Jones reported that she was an insurance sales agent and a gig worker and was unable to provide professional services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jones, however, was not licensed to sell insurance in Colorado at the time she filed her claim and previously had her license to sell insurance revoked by the Colorado Division of Insurance. In fact, she was incarcerated until April 8, 2020, and was transferred to community corrections on that date. She could not have been employed or eligible for unemployment while in prison or on the day she was transferred to community corrections. When the pandemic unemployment assistance program ended, Jones filed for standard unemployment. Since she earned more than her weekly benefit amount each week she was employed, she was ineligible to receive benefits for those weeks.
This case comes from the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force that Weiser created with state and federal law enforcement partners in 2021 to investigate and prosecute suspected identity theft and fraud against the state’s unemployment insurance program. In 2022, 64 separate case referrals from the task force were referred to prosecutors throughout the state, covering 105 fraudulent claims. The assessed losses of the 64 case referrals exceed $1.1 million.
The case number is 2022CR2080. Jones (a.k.a. Dawn Marie Johnson) is in the custody of the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility, DOC No. 180023.