Baldwin County inmate sentenced for pandemic unemployment fraud scheme

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JACOB GARNER -- Photo credit to Baldwin County Sheriff's Office

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — A Baldwin County Jail inmate has been sentenced after orchestrating a pandemic unemployment fraud scheme from behind bars.

The Department of Justice says 34-year-old Jacob Garner of Milledgeville is to serve 24 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to theft of U.S. Government funds. Garner’s sentence is to be served consecutively to the parole revocation sentence he’s currently serving.

Court records show that Garner was an inmate at the Baldwin County Jail in 2020 when he and his then-girlfriend sent messages to each other to file fraudulent unemployment insurance/pandemic unemployment assistance claims to the Georgia Department of Labor.  The girlfriend was 32-year-old Lindsey Garner (née Quinton) of Milledgeville, who is a co-defendant in the case.

Agents with the U.S. Department of Labor investigated and discovered that Jacob instructed Lindsey to obtain fraudulent UI/PUA loans for both themselves and 2 inmates– of those 4 claims, only 2 were issued: $10,329 in Lindsey’s name and $13,776 in Jacob’s name– totaling to $24,105.

Lindsey was employed at the time and not eligible for pandemic loans; incarcerated people aren’t eligible for UI/PUA benefits either. All 4 of the claims were listed using Lindsey’s former mailing address, and submitted from the same IP address. On top of that, the email addresses used to obtain the loans were all linked back to Lindsey’s personal email account.  Inside of Jacob’s jail cell, a search was conducted that led to the discovery of a list of fellow inmates plus their PII, social security numbers, and dates of birth.

Both Jacob Garner and Lindsey Garner (Quinton) have admitted to their roles in the scheme.

Lindsey pleaded guilty to theft of government funds on August 24th, 2022, and was sentenced to serve 5 years of probation on November 2nd, 2022.

Categories: Baldwin County, Featured, Local News