FERTILE — A man from Fertile has pleaded not guilty to unemployment benefit fraud.

45-year-old Jason Berding is accused of illegally receiving a total of 54 weeks of state unemployment insurance benefits, totaling over $17,300 between February 2015 and June 2018. Berding was arrested on March 27th and charged with first-degree fraudulent practice, a Class C felony.

Berding was due to have his arraignment hearing on Monday, but he filed a written plea of not guilty in Worth County District Court. His trial is scheduled to start on July 10th.

If convicted, Berding could face up to ten years in prison as well as owe restitution plus a 15-percent penalty of almost $2600.