Man accused of stealing unemployment benefits

A Grand Junction man is accused of filing for thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits, even though he was working one or two jobs while he was receiving checks from the government.

Lance Alan Ertz, 28, 641 Longs Peak Court, was arrested last week on a warrant on suspicion of theft of between $1,000 and $20,000, forgery and computer crime. He is free from the Mesa County Jail after posting bond.

According to an arrest affidavit, Ertz drew more than $4,800 in unemployment benefits between July 2006 and December 2006, even though he began working for J.C. Penney in April of that year, then took a job with KKCO-TV in October. Ertz told officials with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment that he was unemployed during that time period.

State officials began investigating Ertz in 2007 after conducting a routine audit of unemployment claims by comparing beneficiaries wage records with benefit payment records, the affidavit said. Investigators contacted Ertz, who claimed he was told he could apply for unemployment and still keep his part-time job at J.C. Penney, the affidavit said.

Investigators contacted Ertz again last month, and he admitted he ignored restrictions on filing for unemployment benefits due to “personal issues and dire financial conditions,” the affidavit said.


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