ST. LOUIS – One man targeted St. Louis-area Home Depot stores and Missouri’s unemployment insurance program in fraud schemes, pleading guilty to federal felony charges Tuesday.
Arthur Grass, 36, of St. Genevieve County, admitted to both fraud schemes, in addition to being a felon caught with a firearm.
The schemes date back to May 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Grass admitted filing false unemployment claims for nearly 10 people, claiming that they had been laid off from his construction company, AJE Construction. Grass cashed out the unemployment benefits and kicked some money back to the “workers. This scheme reaped more than $140,000, including supplemental COVID-19 pandemic unemployment benefits.
Per court documents, Grass also admitted to stealing from Home Depot on multiple occasions. He would fill up a cart with boxes of vinyl flooring and add an inexpensive item on top. He would pay for the inexpensive item and claim that he’d paid for the flooring online, showing a fraudulent receipt.
Charging documents state grass stole more than 400 boxes of flooring that way from Home Depot stores in St. Louis City and St. Louis County from Jan. 5, 2023 through Feb. 6, 2023. Each box was priced at about $75 or more. He then sold them on Facebook.
Last March, St. Charles County police were investigating catalytic converter thefts when they found Grass’ Jeep in a storage lot. Grass was inside and found with a weapon, illegally due to a prior felony conviction. Amid the investigation, police learned of evidence in both fraud schemes.
“Arthur Grass engaged in an unemployment insurance fraud scheme targeting the Missouri Department of Labor, Division of Employment Security. Grass conspired to submit fraudulent UI claims in the names of other individuals, diverting vital taxpayer resources away from those in dire need of unemployment benefits,” said Irene Lindow, Special Agent in Charge, Great Lakes Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. “Today’s guilty plea affirms the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General’s commitment to pursuing UI fraud. We are grateful for our partnerships with the Missouri Department of Labor and our many law enforcement partners, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
Grass faces up to 35 years in prison for all of his charges and could be fined up to $250,000 for each charge. He will also be ordered to repay the money.