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Man claims friend 'betrayed' him after filing unemployment benefits, pocketing money

'I would never think that she would do anything like that,' Antonio Thompson says
Posted at 3:34 PM, May 02, 2024

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Yarnell Williams is an administrator at Washington Elementary School. She faces charges of grand theft and organized fraud.

According to the probable cause affidavit, she stole and spent Antonio Thompson's unemployment benefits in 2020.

"I would never think that she would do anything like that being that we were friends so long," Thompson, who's still shaken by the incident, said.

Thompson worked as a security guard and bouncer at some area businesses when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and his employers were forced to shut down.

"I needed money. I was out of work," Thompson said. "So, I tried to do unemployment."

That's when, he said, he turned to his friend Williams for help filling out his unemployment benefits application. A couple months later, he said, she gave him some bad news.

"You got denied," Thompson said, claiming it led to several weeks without a paycheck or benefit.

Yarnell Williams faces charges of grand theft and organized fraud May 2 2024
Washington Elementary School administrator Yarnell Williams faces charges of grand theft and organized fraud.

Thompson told me he didn't give the situation much thought until earlier this year, when he received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service, telling him he owed $1,600 hundred in taxes from payments from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

"Hey, I never received it," Thompson said he told the IRS. "So, I started doing a little research."

Thompson said the IRS showed some of the money from his unemployment debit card was spent in New Orleans. Then he said he looked on Williams' Facebook page.

"And I'll be," Thompson exclaimed. "At that time that card was used, she was in New Orleans, spending it up, having a ball."

This wasn't the first time Thompson made the news at WPTV.

He was described as a hero eight years ago after running into a burning building and saving an elderly couple in Jupiter.

Antonio Thompson saves elderly couple from house fire in Jupiter back in September 2016.png
Antonio Thompson is credited with saving an elderly couple from a house fire in Jupiter back in September 2016.

"I feel good. I did something good today," Thomas said in September 2016. "I saved a couple of lives."

After he was forced to pay taxes on unemployment benefits he said he never received but allegedly stolen by a friend of 15 years, this hero told me he now struggles to pay his bills.

"I felt absolutely betrayed," Thompson said.

He hopes to get some of his money back through court-ordered restitution.

The School District of Palm Beach County told me that Williams was placed on administrative leave.

A spokeswoman with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said there could be more victims. Anyone who is a victim of this organized fraud or theft should call the sheriff's office.

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