Two White County women indicted in 2018 in a fraud conspiracy targeting unemployment benefits pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and face up to 20 years in prison.
Cherrie Davis, 37, of Bald Knob and Kristin Coburn, 36, of Searcy pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker to being part of a White County-based conspiracy that bilked more than $500,000 in unemployment benefits from six states. The payments were made via wire transfers loaded onto debit cards or direct deposits into bank accounts in Arkansas between June 2012 and August 2017.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Bragg told Baker that Mark “Big Head” King of Judsonia, the accused mastermind of the scheme, used business names with addresses in the Eastern District of Arkansas to establish employer business accounts in 16 states, including Arkansas, with the state agencies responsible for administering the unemployment insurance programs in those states.
“Mark King filed false reports of earned wages for several individuals in order for them to receive unemployment insurance payouts,” Bragg said.
Davis and Coburn, she said, received more than $22,000 in benefits from three states on behalf of Diamond K Construction, though neither one ever worked for that company.
Based on false wage reports, Bragg said, Davis was paid $7,244 by the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program, which Bragg said has since been paid back. Coburn, she said, received…