84 felons, 3 dead people paid jobless Tenn. benefits - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

84 felons, 3 dead people paid jobless Tenn. benefits

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In 2013 it was state employees and dead people getting jobless benefits. (Photo Source: Pork Report) In 2013 it was state employees and dead people getting jobless benefits. (Photo Source: Pork Report)
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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) - Dead people and prisoners could be benefiting from millions of your tax dollars. They are all getting unemployment checks for jobs they never had.

In 2013 it was state employees and dead people getting jobless benefits.

Justin Owen with the Beacon Center of Tennessee and author of the Pork Report says to now add felons behind bars to the list.

"The frustrating thing really is that this is designed to go to people who need that money in the short run because they are unemployed," said Owen.

Hard-working people like Nick Dotson has several friends who are city workers laid off for the summer, but they can't get unemployment benefits.

"I'm pretty sure they'd be upset about it, especially with all the rules that they got where you make it so hard to get unemployment," said Dotson.

Owen says to them this is the worst example of wasteful government spending. He says a state comptroller's audit shows a $73 million loss in erroneous unemployment dollars that went to people who weren't qualified.

"A follow-up audit showing that, that had ballooned to $181 million according to his audit," said Owen.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development says jobless benefits were paid to 84 felons behind bars, 16 state workers, and three dead people. They also say "in July 2014, the department will begin implementing new fraud detection software that will detect and prevent fraud."

Dotson has one question.

"Are they going to be made to pay the money back?"

So far the department has only been able to recover $2.5 million of that money as of the most recent audit.

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