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Panhandle man gets probation for unemployment insurance fraud

An Idaho Panhandle construction worker has been placed on five years supervised probation for defrauding the state unemployment insurance program of over $16,000 in benefits.

Fred J. Kudrna III, 35, of Hayden, was ordered to pay back the benefits plus $3,800 in penalties and $450 in court costs, and to perform 30 days of community service, the Idaho Department of Labor said in a release. First District Judge Lansing Haynes gave Kudrna’s probation officer authority to have him jailed for up to 90 days for failing to abide by conditions of his probation.

In sentencing Kudrna March 8, Haynes retained the possibility of sending Kudrna to prison for 2½ to 5 years should he fail to successfully complete probation.

Kudrna, the second person sentenced for unemployment insurance fraud this year, was convicted of failing to disclose that he was working and report money he made over 47 weeks he was collecting regular and federally financed extended unemployment benefit checks.

He has already repaid just over $2,000 but still owes the state $18,300 in benefit payments, penalties and court costs.

As the economy deteriorated over the past two years and claims for unemployment benefits skyrocketed, the Idaho Department of Labor intensified its campaign against benefit fraud. In 2009, department staff uncovered nearly 1,000 cases of fraud involving almost $4.5 million in benefit payments, the department said.

The department said it is in the process of collecting those overpayments, plus interest and penalties, and pursuing criminal fraud charges against 11 other people.

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