Former state worker pleads guilty to illegally changing unemployment benefits for friends, relatives

Money (FILE)
Money (FILE)
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 3:19 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A former Missouri government employee pleaded guilty to stealing unemployment benefits money in 2020 and sending it to friends and relatives.

Vicky Hefner, 63, of Jefferson County, had worked at the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Division of Employment Security since 2009. Prosecutors alleged she logged into the accounts of eight friends, relatives, and associates in 2020 and made them eligible for unemployment benefits when they were not eligible or increased current benefits for those already receiving money. She admitted stealing $140,500 in a plea agreement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri also said Hefner changed the status of some people who were receiving pandemic-related unemployment benefits so they could receive regular unemployment benefits, which illegally increased their benefit amounts.

Hefner is scheduled to be sentenced on June 22. She faces up to 10 years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine. She will also be ordered to repay the $140,500.