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Police: Woodbury man collected unemployment funds illegally

A Woodbury man faces two felonies stemming from allegations he used his ex-wife's personal information to generate fraudulent unemployment payments from the state of Minnesota.

Andrew J. Sinaberg, 44, was charged in April with identity theft and receiving unemployment benefits by false representation. He made his first court appearance on the charges May 12 in Washington County District Court.

According to a criminal complaint:

Sinaberg's ex-wife contacted police after her employer alerted her that her employment status was being checked out after an unemployment claim was made in her name. She immediately suspected her ex-husband, Sinaberg, as the person responsible for the incident.

The woman told police that while she was still married to Sinaberg, he used her social security number and other private data to open 25 credit cards in her name. Sinaberg had "a serious gambling problem," she told investigators.

A Woodbury detective contacted a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development fraud specialist regarding the situation and learned that an account had been opened in the ex-wife's name.

Since July 21, 2010, weekly deposits of $480 were made into the account.

When applying for unemployment benefits, applicants designate an account that can be opened and activated with a debit card. In the Sinaberg case, evidence showed the account was opened July 12 at a Woodbury SuperAmerica location using a debit card purchased there.

A review of transactions revealed purchases made at various locations around Woodbury and at gambling establishments.

Police zeroed in on Sinaberg after examining still video surveillance images from ATM locations where funds had been withdrawn.

Officers in January executed a search warrant at a Fridley hotel where Sinaberg had been living and seized items including a laptop computer and W-2 forms in the name of his ex-wife. Other documents in the ex-wife's name that were located in the hotel included a birth certificate, a car title, a passport and a checkbook.

Woodbury detectives later conducted a forensic analysis of the laptop found in the hotel room and found that the user - who logged in under the name "Andrew" - created a debit card account under the ex-wife's name, and accessed the state's unemployment website.

The user also executed Web searches for unemployment fraud and its consequences.

The total amount received in unemployment payments was $9,120.

Sinaberg is next due in court June 15.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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