Jewett, 48, said the UNF student, Christian Davis Price, was lazy, and his fraud was easily detected. He said his staff was split evenly between college students and older, unemployed people looking for work. The jobs paid about $11 an hour, but Jewett said he was promoted quickly to field coordinator, where he earned $3,000 a month.
After the election, Jewett and his staff were let go. He said this week that he doesn’t suspect any of his other employees turned in fraudulent forms.
But Ray Robbins, a 60-year-old unemployed salesman, worked for Jewett and said he believes at least a quarter of the staff were turning in forged applications.
“Most of the people there were in their 20s, and they’d come in with big numbers,” Robbins said. “I knew what side of town they were working on. Some would turn in 20 forms a day after working the Democratic side of town, and I would think, 'That’s funny.’”
The pressure to fib was intense, Robbins said. He said Jewett demanded that staff average 14 forms a day. If those numbers weren’t reached, employees risked getting their pay cut, Robbins said.
“The pressure would cause you to do some funny business,” said Robbins, who described himself as a staunch Republican. “I can see it. I’m too honest, but the kids these days want to work one day and get two days off.”
Yet investigators didn’t interview Robbins either. He didn’t know about the fraud case that came from his office, and said he was surprised that Jewett wasn’t interviewed.
“With Jeff, they could have gone up the ladder,” Robbins said. “You’d think they’d want the biggest fish they could get.”
Contact Michael Van Sickler at firstname.lastname@example.org.