DOWNTOWN — A woman who used her Beverly tax office to steal millions of dollars in unemployment insurance by setting up fake companies with non-existent employees has been sentenced to six years in federal prison, authorities said Tuesday.
Jaqueline Kennedy, 41, formerly of suburban Country Club Hills, operated out of her tax preparation business at 1757 W. 95th St., ATAP Financial Enterprises. Prosecutors called her the "leader and organizer" of the scheme which eventually resulted in more than a dozen people being charged.
Kennedy "made choices knowing full well they were illegal," said U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Illinois.
"Stealing unemployment benefits is shameful. It harms every worker and every unemployer in the state and it simply will not be tolerated," said Jay Rowell, the executive director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
Kennedy and her co-defendants bilked state unemployment agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Oklahoma of some $9.1 million, authorities said.
After being indicted in April of 2012, Kennedy was released on bond and then fled. She was re-arrested in December of 2012.
The IIlinois Department of Employment Security said the unemployment case "might be the largest fictitious employer case in the country."