COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An employee of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services could be facing charges after allegedly stopping her relative’s money after an argument.
Quenise Barnes, who was a customer service representative with ODJFS, allegedly stopped her relative’s unemployment benefits in June after a personal dispute, the Ohio Inspector General said in a media release.
The relative told investigators that she began receiving PUA payments in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the release stated. On May 7, the relative and Barnes had a personal dispute. The relative provided to investigators copies of text messages that Barnes had sent to her on May 7, referencing the personal dispute, and on May 14, stating that she was responsible for discontinuing the relative’s PUA payments.
On May 16, the relative was unable to recertify her benefits, and on May 17, her expected benefit payment was not deposited in her account. The relative also provided investigators with social media posts created by Barnes in which she announced her employment with ODJFS and stated that she had the ability to adjust her relatives’ and friends’ benefits, the release added.
Investigators determined that Barnes accessed her relative’s claim 10 times before locking the claim and discontinuing her benefits on May 14. Investigators also found that Barnes had accessed her own unemployment claim four times during her employment with ODJFS without any legitimate business purpose, contrary to department policy.
The case has been referred to the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Columbus City Attorney’s Office and the Ohio Ethics Commission for consideration, the release concluded.