From WHYY: Delaware is investigating jobless fund systems for possibility of more thefts


By Sarah Mueller

Delaware’s Auditor of Accounts has an open investigation into the 2023 theft of more than $181,000 from the unemployment insurance trust fund by a former state employee, Gov. John Carney recently told WHYY News.

Officials have struggled to address questions raised by the exclusive reporting, such as why the state did not reveal the embezzlement publicly until Delaware Department of Labor (DOL) officials were contacted last month by WHYY News.

Former unemployment insurance administrator Michael Brittingham created a fraudulent tax account that listed his company NEWAGE Management LLC as the employer. He had his assistant cut two checks to his LLC in January and March 2023. Brittingham took his own life in April 2023 after the theft came to light and he was placed under investigation. The money has yet to be recovered.

Delaware employers pay into the trust fund, which pays out jobless benefits. Former state Auditor Tom Wagner, who held the position for about 30 years, said current state Auditor Lydia York’s investigators are likely looking into the real possibility that this kind of embezzlement of the UI trust fund could happen again.

The state had not disclosed the theft to the public until WHYY News contacted the Department of Labor.

Laura Henderson, who works in the UI Office and gave a witness statement to the Delaware State Police about the embezzlement, said she agrees there is a possibility that money could be stolen again by a state employee.

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