Plaintiff in Iowa bias suit pleads guilty to theft

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa workforce adviser helping lead a class-action discrimination lawsuit filed by black workers has pleaded guilty to federal charges of embezzlement and identity theft.

Linda Pippen entered the pleas during a hearing Wednesday in federal court in Cedar Rapids. She acknowledged she used her job at Iowa Workforce Development to carry out a fraud scheme in which she embezzled $43,000 in benefits meant for unemployed Iowans.

Pippen is the first named representative in a lawsuit for up to 6,000 blacks turned down for state jobs and promotions dating back to 2003. She says she was unfairly passed over for promotions.

Prosecutors say Pippen made fraudulent entries in Iowa Workforce Development’s computer system to file applications for unemployment insurance benefits under other people’s names. She was fired last year.