25 more charged in unemployment scam that netted a half-million dollars

Leelyn Danielle Chytka
Leelyn Danielle Chytka

ABINGDON, Va. — The chips are beginning to fall in a half-million dollar unemployment scam in southwestern Virginia.

Two weeks after Leelyn Danielle Chytka, 28, of Lebanon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges related to the scheme, other co-conspirators are now being charged.

Chytka admitted in court to filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits on behalf of herself and 38 other people, including friends, family members and at least 16 inmates in area jails.

Now, 25 others are facing a variety of charges related to the scheme. The defendants include:

  • Jimmy W. Barnette
  • George L. Buckles
  • Joshua S. Carroll
  • Eugene A. Grizzle
  • Ryan E. Grizzle
  • Joseph N. Hall
  • Wesley W. Hickman
  • Jacob H. Hicks
  • Ajay Johnson
  • John C. Johnson Jr.
  • John C. Johnson Sr.
  • Randall D. Johnson
  • Marissa L. Kiser
  • Jared W. Mitchell
  • Curtis E. Mullins
  • Danny L. Mullins Jr.
  • Eric B. Mullins
  • James B. Mullins
  • Steven J. Mullins
  • Veronica S. Mullins
  • Patrick A. Payne
  • Jeremy N.S. Short
  • Jeffrey D. Wiseman

While the specific charges vary from person to person, all face conspiracy and fraud charges, while some are also charged with identity theft.

The scheme resulted in more than $499,000 in fraudulent benefits being paid to Chytka, but authorities have only been able to recover about $43,000. As part of her plea agreement, Chytka has agreed to repay the remaining $456,000.