Member of secretive church pleads guilty in benefits scheme

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A member of a secretive North Carolina church has pleaded guilty to taking part in an unemployment fraud scheme benefiting businesses with ties to the congregation.

Diane McKinny appeared before a federal judge Friday and admitted to a count of making a fraudulent claim for unemployment benefits, according to court filings. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Court documents say McKinny worked for a minster at the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale at his business.

Prosecutors have said the company, Diverse Corporate Technologies, laid off employees in 2008 so they could collect unemployment benefits. But prosecutors say the employees continued to work at the company, with government money replacing their salaries.

Prosecutors say employees, many of whom were church members, were coerced to comply.

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