A Detroit couple is facing multiple decades in prison after being accused of conspiring with a former state contractor to defraud the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency out of more than $2 million.
Micahia Taylor and Johnny Richardson allegedly conspired with Brandi Hawkins to file fake unemployment claims. Prosecutors believe that Hawkins was aware of the embellished claims and used her access to release the funds to the couple.
Federal authorities found WhatsApp messages between Hawkins and Taylor when they raided the former contractor's home in July. According to a criminal complaint, Hawkins showed that she was fixing the claims in her messages to Taylor.
Taylor and Richardson showed off cars, jewellery, and designer clothes on Instagram. One post showed Richardson bragging about buying Taylor a Mercedes G-Wagon.
"Baby you deserve everything I got the big house you wanted and the car and the jewelry," Richardson wrote in all caps. "Btw I love you so much and I'm not done next week I got something better."
Hawkins has been charged with theft and bribery, while Taylor was arrested and released on a $10,000 unsecured bond. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Wyse labeled Taylor a flight risk and said her boyfriend was still missing. He also added that the authorities "simply do not know where that $2.5 million is."
The couple has been charged with wire fraud and each face up to 20 years in prison.
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