Ex-agency worker in Chicago sentenced in benefits scheme

CHICAGO (AP) _ A 41-year-old former benefits authorizer has been sentenced to five years in prison in a scheme that bilked a federal agency out of nearly $2 million.

Some of the money was spent shopping at Gucci, on traveling to an NBA game and on his home in Chicago.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Jayson Cruz authorized fraudulent payments from 2009 to 2013 to more than 150 recipients from a Chicago office of the Social Security Administration. Recipients kicked back half the fraudulent payments to Cruz.

Prosecutors say Cruz made sure each fraudulent payment was under $6,000 to ensure a supervisor’s approval wouldn’t be required.

Cruz pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud. Judge Virginia Kendall sentenced him Thursday in Chicago. Five defendants in the case have been convicted.