From the Detroit News
Lansing --- The Michigan Talent Investment Agency is asking district court judges to dismiss 186 bench warrants issued against residents who were accused of unemployment fraud and failed to appear in court to face charges.
Director Wanda Stokes said Thursday it is inappropriate to pursue charges against the individuals at this time while the state continues to review past fraud determinations made by an error-prone automated computer system, many of which have already been overturned.
Some accused residents did not even know they had been ordered to appear in court, said attorney Jennifer Lord, who is representing alleged victims in a potential-class action lawsuit against the agency.
Lord suggested the state had "farmed out" the prosecution of cases in Flint and Detroit and pursued charges months or even years after learning of problems with the computer system.
"The fact they are just now doing it, and claiming they deserve some sort of pat on the back, is absolutely outrageous," she said. Lord questioned how many residents may have already pleaded guilty to false fraud charges, agreeing to give back alleged overpayments to avoid steep penalties and interest. "It's just another example of how this is rotten from top to bottom, and the state has ignored it," Lord said. "The elements of harm that have impacted people are so wide and varied."