State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) announced he is appointing a House Task Force on Unemployment Fraud. He said there is enough evidence to indicate a widespread and expensive problem. Representatives Marilyn Avila (R-Wake) and G.L. Pridgen (R-Robeson) will co-chair the task force. Tillis said they started gathering information about the problem about a month ago when Rep. Pridgen heard a plea for help from a constituent. Jerry Norton set up a professional staffing company in 2008 and told a press conference not long after that a female employee began using the company to sign up herself and relatives for unemployment benefits. He said he couldn’t get any help from state officials and it cost him money.
Research indicates there were anywhere from $40 million to $160 million in over payments of unemployment benefits. Rep. Avila said 45 percent of the benefit checks are still going to people who have found jobs. Speaker Tillis said he wants recommendations from the task force for the short session of the General Assembly, which begins in May.