(KMOV.com) -- A Missouri businessman was charged with fraud Thursday after authorities alleges he used Illinois welfare benefits at Hooters restaurants and in places like Costa Rica and Puntarenas.
James L. Quirin, 57, of Manchester, Missouri was charged today in federal court in East St. Louis in a criminal complaint which alleges theft of government funds.
The following information is from a news release from the United State's Attorney of the Southern District of Illinois:
According to authorities, Quirin applied for Unemployment Insurance benefits in February, 2009, even though he was a gainfully-employed businessman receiving significant income. Quirin and several of his businesses were sued in federal court. Just before he was ordered to post an approximate quarter million dollars in collateral, Quirin filed a fraudulent application for unemployment benefits with the State of Illinois. Quirin then falsely told the judge that he was unemployed and had no source of income.
In reality, Quirin continued to receive significant income with most of the payments being made out to the names of other business entities with which Quirin was associated. In a practice known as “structuring,” Quirin caused payments to be split into separate checks of less than $10,000.00 to avoid his transactions being reported to the government. Quirin cashed most of his checks at a bar in St. Louis, Missouri, occasionally cashing structured checks on separate days.
In order to receive the full benefit payments, the State of Illinois requires that beneficiaries report weekly that they looked for and were available to work, and that they had not worked. Quirin repeatedly and falsely informed the State of Illinois that he met these criteria, even though he had worked, had been paid, and on some occasions was unavailable to work because he was vacationing in Costa Rica.
The State of Illinois issues a debit card to unemployment beneficiaries. Quirin used his unemployment benefits card to pay expenses at such establishments as Hooters, the Monkey Bar, and the Hotel Copacabana, in San Jose and Puntarenas, Costa Rica during time periods that he falsely claimed to be available and looking for work.
State unemployment programs are funded by the federal government. During the period that Quirin claimed federally subsidized unemployment benefits, February, 2009 through October, 2010, Quirin fraudulently received government funds exceeding $44,000.00.
The case is being investigated by the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Burke.
Again, under the law, the Complaint is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.