Member of secretive church set to enter plea in fraud case

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A member of a secretive North Carolina church is preparing to enter a plea as part of an investigation into an unemployment fraud scheme.

Diane McKinny is scheduled for a plea hearing Friday on a federal charge of making a fraudulent claim for unemployment benefits.

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Her employer Kent Covington was a minister at the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale. He was sentenced last month to 34 months in prison on a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Prosecutors have said Covington’s business 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 Covington used his position as a church leader to coerce employees to comply.