Knoxville — Judge John Lloyd refused to accept a guilty plea regarding the alleged fraudulent practices of Sharla Kay Murdock, age 48.
Murdock was set to plead guilty to the charge for wrongfully collecting over $10,000 in unemployment benefits. However, while Lloyd was questioning Murdock to establish her guilt, Murdock said that she did not intend to defraud the unemployment compensation program. Rather, she failed to pay attention to the amount she received each paycheck, and reported incorrect information to the State because of it.
"I didn't call in correct wages I earned," Murdock said. "I don't believe I deliberately did it at the time," she went on to say. She told Lloyd that she received the money wrongfully and wants to take responsibility for it.
Lloyd asked Assistant Marion County Attorney Tiffany Kragnes to look up the criminal code section referenced. The code (Chapter 96.16) indicates that criminal guilt exists when a defendant knowingly tries to defraud the government.
The judge asked her if she intended to inaccurately report her earnings. Murdock said no.
"Then I am not accepting this guilty plea," Lloyd said.
The case will proceed to trial. It is scheduled to begin Oct. 8 at 9 a.m.