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Three charged with unemployment fraud in Sauk County
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Three charged with unemployment fraud in Sauk County

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Austin E. Cooley, 20, is facing two felony charges after in April a pet rabbit was found dead and a pet rat had burned feet that resulted in her being euthanized.

Investigations by a state agency have produced felony charges against three Sauk County residents accused of defrauding Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance program.

The Sauk County District Attorney’s Office filed criminal complaints Tuesday alleging that three women concealed their employment and wages from the state Department of Workforce Development while filing claims for benefits.

Kali M. Wilson, 26, of Baraboo, Shari L. Johnson, 48, of Wisconsin Dells, and Jamie L. Emanuele, 40, of Reedsburg, each face one count of felony theft by false representation. The charge carries a maximum possible prison sentence of up to six years.

A DWD investigator informed prosecutors the women signed up for unemployment benefits through a telephone or internet claims system managed by the state, according to the complaints.

On a weekly basis, the complaints allege, the defendants filed claims certifying under penalty of law that they were not employed. However, the investigator allegedly verified with employers that each of the three women was working and collecting wages at the time.

The complaint against Wilson alleges she fraudulently claimed more than $7,000 in unemployment benefits over 73 weeks beginning in 2014.

During that time, she was employed by two Wisconsin Dells businesses — the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center and Baker’s Sunset Bay Resort — and earned more than $17,000 in wages, according to prosecutors.

Wilson allegedly told an investigator she did not know why she did not report wages from the two resorts. Regarding Kalahari, she said “maybe it was because she was in training and didn’t feel she really worked,” the complaint states.

Johnson allegedly claimed more than $5,500 in unemployment benefits during 18 weeks that began in 2013. The complaint alleges she earned more than $7,000 in wages as an employee of Apex Systems, an internet technology and staffing and workforce solutions firm, during that time.

The DWD met with Johnson in 2017 to ask about the claims. During their conversation, she allegedly told him she could not remember why she didn’t report wages from Apex because it was so long ago.

The complaint against Emanuele alleges she claimed more than $8,000 in benefits during 23 weeks beginning in 2014. However, prosecutors allege she was employed at Christmas Mountain Village and earned more than $6,000 in wages while claiming unemployment.

When the DWD investigator tracked her down at her workplace in 2018, Emanuele “stated that she could not remember the exact circumstances surrounding her filing for unemployment benefits back in 2014,” according to the complaint.

Wilson, Johnson and Emanuele are scheduled to appear April 24 in Sauk County Circuit Court.

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Baraboo News Republic reporter

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