Southwest Virginia man convicted for role in unemployment benefits scam | USAO-WDVA

ABINGDON, Va. — A southwestern Virginia man, who conspired with more than 30 others in a scheme to defraud the government of more than $499,000 in unemployment benefits, was sentenced this week to 30 months from federal prison.

George Levi Buckles, 32, pleaded guilty in October 2021 to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of misrepresentation.

According to court documents, Buckles conspired with Leelynn Danielle Chytka, Gregory Marcus Tackett, Jeffery Ryan Tackett and others to commit fraud against the United States in the filing of fraudulent pandemic unemployment benefit claims. .

Over the course of nine months, conspiracy members filed fraudulent claims with the Virginia Employment Commission on behalf of at least 37 people, with a total actual loss to the United States of at least $499,000. Chytka, the mastermind behind the scheme, was sentenced to nine years in prison, as were the two Tacketts.

U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh of the Western District of Virginia; Syreeta Scott, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Regional Office, U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Washington, DC, Field Office made the announcement.

The Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Washington, DC, Field Office, Norton Police Department and Russell County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel J. Murphy and Michael Baudinet prosecuted the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www.

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