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The scope of a massive unemployment fraud scheme involving District government workers continues to expand, as the number of employees under investigation for double-dipping now stands at nearly 300. The list includes current and former D.C. Council staff members, according to sources.
Five council staffers implicated are no longer employed, but one — an employee in Council member Muriel Bowser's office — still works for the city, sources tell WAMU.
Bowser did not specifically address the accusations about a staffer in her office in comments this week. When asked if she was aware of anyone on her staff implicated in the scheme, she instead spoke of the larger scandal.
"I know that hundreds of people that have been identified as getting over-payments," she said. "It's my policy not to discuss personnel matters in my office. I will tell you this, I am looking at the full scope of the investigation."
Added Bowser: "I want to see all of the actions that are taken. Clearly, it's problematic … more than problematic -- it’s alarming.”
The scope of the scandal is growing. Investigators have identified nearly 200 additional employees who allegedly took part in the scam to receive unemployment while working for the city government, bringing the total number of city government employees under investigation to nearly 300, WAMU has learned through sources and documents.
The crackdown on the unemployment fraud began last year, when Mayor Vincent Gray appointed Lisa Mallory to take over the city's Department of Employment Services.
The total amount of money paid out to these employees in unemployment checks could exceed millions of dollars. So far, 61 employees have been fired, although authorities expect that number to climb in the coming weeks.