Will County prosecutors seek forfeiture of bank accounts in state benefits fraud case

James Nowak

Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of bank accounts from a Mokena man charged with fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits and unlawfully obtaining proprietary data from a claims management company, court records show.

On Monday, prosecutors filed a complaint for forfeiture of bank accounts and an E*TRADE account for James Nowak, 52, of Mokena, that they alleged were used in a money laundering scheme involving unemployment benefits.

A grand jury returned a 15-count felony indictment against Nowak on Dec. 14, charging him with theft, state benefits fraud, money laundering and computer fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The charges allege that Nowak applied for unemployment assistance benefits Oct. 11, 2020, then continued to operate a business named Risant Claims Services. After that, he failed to notify the Illinois Department of Employment Security that he had gained employment.

Nowak fraudulently obtained about $32,270 in unemployment benefits, according to the indictment.

Nowak also was charged with unlawfully accessing data owned by his former employer, Veritas National Claims Management, for the use of Risant Claims Services.

The forfeiture complaint filed Monday alleged that Nowak had used his fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits to finance Risant Claims Services while he still claimed to be unemployed.

The investigation into Nowak began after owners of Veritas National Claims Management had contacted the Tinley Park Police Department to report they were a victim of intellectual property theft valued at about $4 million, prosecutors said in the forfeiture complaint.

Police were told by Veritas’ president that Nowak, a former employee, had created a company named Risant Claims Services, prosecutors said.

“This company became a competitor to Veritas, doing business in the same manner and targeting the same Veritas clients contained in the data in ClaimPilot,” prosecutors said.

ClaimPilot is a platform used by Veritas that contains a proprietary list of the company’s clients and confidential information.

An information technology administrator for Veritas discovered that Nowak had accessed ClaimPilot and copied its data for himself, prosecutors said.

Veritas had contacted Filotto Professional Services in Joliet to evaluate the loss of the stolen data, which was valued at more than $4 million, prosecutors said.

The company also learned that Nowak was soliciting its own employees to join Risant Claims Service, and discovered one of them was Marlana Grein, 56, of Frankfort. Grein was later fired because of the “clear conflict of working for Veritas and a competing business,” prosecutors said.

On Dec. 15, a grand jury also returned a seven-count felony indictment against Grein on charges of theft, wire fraud and state benefits fraud. She pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The indictment alleges that Grein fraudulently collected $22,414 in unemployment benefits. She was accused of falsely collecting unemployment benefits by claiming that she was not working, although she had done work for Risant Claims Services and allegedly sold an insurance policy through Gee-Schussler Insurance.

Marlana Grein