Moses Lake man accused of stealing unemployment funds

MOSES LAKE, Wash. — A Moses Lake man has been indicted for filing false unemployment claims and demanding kickbacks while working for the state Employment Security Department. 

Reyes De La Cruz III is accused of fraudulently distributing at least $360,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits. He is also believed to have kept at least $130,000 for himself. 

The federal indictment states De La Cruz accepted payment from people in exchange for ensuring they received CARES Act unemployment benefits, even though they were not entitled to them. 

He is also accused of demanding money from those people by threatening to reverse the benefits decisions he engineered. 

Lastly, De La Cruz is accused of fraudulently using personal identifying information of other Washingtonians to file fraudulent claims and divert the benefits to himself. 

When filing claims for the benefits, De La Cruz allegedly specified they should be paid to debit cards issued by KeyBank and mailed to his home. He is believed to have done all of this while working remotely. 

De La Cruz faces six counts of wire fraud, nine counts of bribery, one count of extortion and four counts of aggravated identity theft. He appeared in court Monday and was appointed a public defender. 

He is in custody in the Spokane County Jail and will be held until at least a future court hearing where he can argue for his release.

RELATED: 4 News Now investigation: Data breach that impacted WA’s unemployed also hit cities, schools and hospitals