ST. LOUIS — A Missouri state employee has been charged with three federal felony charges after being accused of sending unearned unemployment benefits to friends, relatives and others.
Vicky Hefner, of Jefferson County, began working with Missouri's Department of Labor and Industrial Relations in 2009. She worked in the Division of Employment Security as a benefit program specialist.
The 63-year-old helped people file their claims over the phone and adjudicated issues people were having with unemployment claims at her home and office in St. Louis.
According to the press release, from July to December 2020, Hefner logged into accounts of friends, relatives and associates to change their status. She used her credentials in ways that either made them eligible for unemployment benefits or increased their benefits, according to the indictment.
Hefner sent about $140,500 to friends, relatives and others during that time, according to the press release.
She triggered payments to people who were still working and her friends and relatives paid her kickbacks, according to the indictment.
On Sept. 28 she was charged with three counts of theft of public money by a federal grand jury.
Hefner pleaded not guilty to the charges last week.
She faces up to 10 years in prison per charge, a $250,000 fine or both if convicted. Hefner will also be ordered to repay the money if convicted.
There is no set court date as of right now for Hefner.