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Petal woman pleads guilty to theft of COVID unemployment benefits

Delma Ruth High pleaded guilty to theft of government funds on June 3 in Hattiesburg.
Delma Ruth High pleaded guilty to theft of government funds on June 3 in Hattiesburg.
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 3:09 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A Petal woman pleaded guilty in federal court last week to theft of government funds after an investigation into fraud involving COVID-19 unemployment insurance benefits.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced 64-year-old Delma Ruth High pleaded guilty on June 3 in Hattiesburg.

According to prosecutors, a local bank alerted the U.S. Secret Service’s Jackson office in May 2020 that unemployment insurance benefits from the state of Washington and Arizona had been deposited into High’s account under other people’s names. The information was provided in connection to High’s account being closed for fraudulent activity.

The benefits were federally subsidized under the CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

High will be sentenced on Oct. 6, 2021 by Senior U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meghan M. McCalla and William Dieters.

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