Local borough employee charged by AG’s office, accused of unemployment fraud

HOMESTEAD, Pa. — A local borough employee has turned herself in on charges brought forth by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, according to officials.

Shunta Parms, 32, is charged with theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and unsworn falsification to authorities.

A criminal complaint obtained by Channel 11 claims Parms fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits while working for the borough of Homestead.

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According to the complaint, she had been laid off at one point due to the pandemic, but was brought back and continued collecting. Parms is a code enforcement officer, per borough records. Special Agents investigating the case reportedly received information from Lauren Zang, a former borough manager.

In October of 2020, Channel 11 exclusively reported that Zang was fired by the borough, and subsequently filed a federal lawsuit.

>>>RELATED: Local borough, council members named in ‘whistleblower’ lawsuit

In it, Zang claimed she was fired for speaking up on multiple issues, including a borough employee who “claimed eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits for several weeks,” while “receiving full pay” from the borough. The suit claimed that the employee, now identified as Parms, was related to a councilmember.

Channel 11 reached out to the borough’s current manager, Vanessa McCarthy-Johnson, and the borough’s solicitor for comment, and for an update on Parms’ employment status.

Solicitor Sam Dalfonso sent us a statement reading “the Borough does not comment on personnel matters or ongoing litigation.”

We visited the listed address for Parms on Friday. A woman came to the door but did not answer.

The charges come weeks after Channel 11′s Liz Kilmer filed an appeal with the Office of Open Records after the borough denied requests for months-worth of public meeting minutes.

>>>RELATED: Local borough withholds public documents as revolving door, legal issues persist

The borough has since sent several documents to Channel 11, but the Office of Open Records is still reviewing the case.

In October 2020, Channel 11 exclusively reported that Zang was fired by the borough, and subsequently filed a federal lawsuit.

In it, Zang claimed she was fired for speaking up on multiple issues, including one relating to a borough employee who “claimed eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits for several weeks,” while “receiving full pay” from the borough. The suit claimed that the employee, now identified as Parms, was related to a council member.

Channel 11 has reached out to the borough’s current manager, Vanessa McCarthy-Johnson, and the borough’s solicitor for comment, and for clarification on whether or not Parms is still employed by the borough.

RELATED HEADLINE: Local borough withholds public documents as revolving door, legal issues persist

The borough’s solicitor told Channel 11 the borough does not comment on personnel matters or ongoing litigation.

The charges come weeks after Channel 11′s Liz Kilmer filed an appeal with the Office of Open Records after the borough denied requests for months-worth of public meeting minutes.

The borough has since sent several documents to Channel 11, but the Office of Open Records is still reviewing the case.