State apologizes for fraud fiasco, wants to reduce penalties

Unemployment Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A state official who’s conducting a wide-ranging review of Michigan’s embattled unemployment benefits office is apologizing for the fiasco that led at least 20,000 people to be falsely accused of fraud.

Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes adds that lawmakers should consider reducing the country’s highest financial penalties for unemployment fraud.

She told The Associated Press that people affected are angry and she is, too. She says their plight “shouldn’t have happened.”

Stokes, who took charge of the umbrella agency that oversees the unemployment office in July, says Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed her to “assess the situation and then fix it.” The office’s director was recently reassigned.

The state is halting all collection activities against people who were subject to fraud determinations over a nearly two-year period.