This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Eric A. Odegard,
Department of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed September 6, 2005
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File Nos. 8353 04 & 8354 04
Eric A. Odegard, Hennepin County Work Release, 1345 Shenandoah Lane, Plymouth, MN 55447-3292 (pro se relator)
Linda A. Holmes, Department of Employment and Economic Development, First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
By writ of certiorari, relator challenges the senior unemployment-review judge’s decision that relator obtained unemployment benefits through fraud. Because the evidence reasonably supports the senior unemployment-review judge’s findings, we affirm.
November 17, 2002, an unemployment-benefit account previously established by
relator Eric Odegard was reactivated. Odegard was in jail at the time of the
reactivation and was, therefore, unavailable for work. Odegard was paid unemployment benefits from
November 30, 2002, through August 9, 2003; during this time he was continuously
incarcerated in various correctional facilities in
Odegard’s wife and his former roommate both stated in interviews and in affidavits that Odegard instructed them to submit check stubs to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to show that he had sufficient earnings in new, covered employment to clear the previous disqualification. Odegard’s former roommate faxed this information to DEED on November 22, 2002. Odegard denies making such a request.
Biweekly requests for unemployment benefits for the weeks ending November 23, 2002, through May 24, 2003, were filed through TELECLAIM using Odegard’s social-security number and personal-identification number. On May 25, 2003, an unemployment-benefit account was established for Odegard under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program. Again, biweekly claims were filed through TELECLAIM, using Odegard’s social-security number and personal-identification number for the weeks ending May 31, 2003, through August 9, 2003. Although Odegard was not available to work because he was incarcerated, each time a claim was made, the caller would answer “yes” using a touch-tone phone to the question “Were you available for work?”
Odegard was paid $9,010 in unemployment benefits for the weeks ending November 30, 2002, through May 24, 2003. He was paid $3,850 in TEUC benefits for the weeks ending May 31, 2003, through August 9, 2003. Odegard did not personally cash any of these checks; his wife cashed most of the checks by endorsing them with Odegard’s name.
The senior unemployment-review judge (SURJ) found that Odegard was aware that other individuals were calling TELECLAIM and using his social-security number and personal-identification number to continue to request unemployment benefits. Odegard disputes this finding, but the SURJ specifically noted that
Odegard’s testimony that he was not aware others were using his Social Security Number and Personal Identification Number to file continued biweekly requests for benefits and that he attempted to notify the Carver County Sheriff Department and the Department of Employment and Economic Development in April 2003 that others may be improperly using those numbers to request benefits through TELECLAIM, is not believable.
On April 28, 2004, DEED mailed determinations of overpayment to Odegard regarding the unemployment benefits and the TEUC benefits. DEED determined that Odegard failed to properly report his employment or earnings, or both, as required by law. DEED requested Odegard to repay the $9,010 of paid unemployment benefits, plus a penalty of $2,252 for intentionally giving DEED false information to obtain benefits. DEED also requested Odegard to repay the $3,850 in paid TEUC benefits, in addition to a $962 penalty.
By two separate decisions, an unemployment-law judge determined that Odegard fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits and TEUC benefits. On October 5, 2004, a SURJ independently reviewed these cases and concluded that Odegard obtained unemployment benefits and TEUC benefits by fraud and ordered that Odegard repay the overpayments, in addition to the penalties. Odegard filed a single petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of both of the SURJ’s decisions.
D E C I S I O N
appeal, this court reviews the decision of the SURJ and accords it “particular
deference.” Tuff v.
Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (
An applicant for unemployment
benefits “who receives unemployment benefits by knowingly misrepresenting,
misstating, or failing to disclose any material fact, or who makes a false
statement or representation without a good faith belief as to the correctness
of the statement or representation, has committed fraud.”
Here, the SURJ determined that “[a]ll of Odegard’s unemployment benefits were overpaid because they were obtained through knowing and willful misrepresentation, misstatement and failure to disclose a material fact.” Odegard argues that he had no knowledge that others were requesting or obtaining unemployment benefits on his behalf, but the SURJ specifically found that Odegard’s testimony on this point was not credible.
According to the statute, an applicant receives overpayments of unemployment benefits by fraud when the applicant receives such benefits “by knowingly misrepresenting, misstating, or failing to disclose any material fact” or by making “a false statement or representation without a good faith belief as to the correctness of the statement.” Minn. Stat. § 268.18, subd. 2(a). Here, Odegard did not make the phone calls requesting unemployment benefits. But both Odegard’s wife and his former roommate stated that Odegard told them to reactivate his unemployment-benefits account and that he provided his social-security number and his personal-identification number. Odegard also sent his wife a letter asking, “Did you get the unemployment?” He sent her another letter asking for “a decent amount” of money and reminding her that the money was his, too. Further, in their affidavits and interviews, both Odegard’s wife and former roommate stated that Odegard knew that they were using his social-security number and personal-identification number to obtain unemployment benefits. We conclude that the evidence reasonably supports the SURJ’s determination that Odegard knew that others were using his social-security number and personal-identification number to obtain unemployment benefits under his name.
also argues that he did not “receive any funds from this fraudulent activity”
and therefore cannot be found to have committed fraud because the statute
refers to fraud by an “applicant who receives unemployment benefits.” Minn. Stat. § 268.18, subd. 2(a). The SURJ found that Odegard was paid unemployment
benefits to which he was not entitled. While
Odegard may not have personally received the proceeds, the unemployment-benefit
checks were written to him. His wife stated
that Odegard directed her to use the funds to pay some of their bills,
including the phone bill Odegard incurred by calling her collect from
jail. Because Odegard provided others
with the information necessary to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits
from his account, knew that they were receiving unemployment checks payable to
him, and at least indirectly benefited from the proceeds of the checks, we
conclude that Odegard received unemployment benefits within the meaning of the
statute. Further, under
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 Odegard had been disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits in August 2002 because he voluntarily quit his employment.
 TELECLAIM is an information and payment system that includes an automated application that processes continued biweekly requests for unemployment benefits filed by applicants through a touch-tone telephone. Applicants must enter their social-security numbers and private personal-identification numbers and must answer questions regarding the time period in question.
 The legislature recently substituted the term “senior
unemployment review judge” for “representative of the commissioner.” See 2004