Feds allege record $25 million in claims over unemployment scam | California News

By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A jobless scam operated out of California prisons has demanded a record $25 million from state and U.S. governments, raising more than $5 million for vehicles, furniture, handbags and jewelry, federal authorities said Friday.

The $25 million is the biggest known loot in California, said former U.S. attorney McGregor Scott, who works with the state’s Department of Employment Development to coordinate relief fraud investigations in California. pandemic case.

Yet that and the actual $5 million loss is just a fraction of the more than $20 billion in unemployment benefits that authorities say have been stolen since March 2020 as the state approved payments. fraudulent on behalf of death row inmates and even US Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Inmates Daryol Richmond, 31, and Telvin Breaux, 30, both of Los Angeles County, falsely claimed that they and others, including underage children, sold clothes or worked as handymen, mechanics or in other jobs until they find themselves unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new indictment alleges.

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Richmond is imprisoned at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, serving nearly 25 years as a repeat offender for robbery and attempted robbery with various enhancements, according to corrections officials.

Breaux is being held at the California Correctional Facility in Tehachapi, serving a five-year sentence for robbery with a firearm, among other offenses.

They used contraband cellphones, emails and phone calls from prison to communicate with others outside the prisons, investigators say.

The new indictment charges them and six Southern California residents with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, charges that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. and a fine of $250,000.

They allegedly created fake email accounts and used different mailing addresses in Southern California to file over 400 bogus claims.

Once they received debit cards in the mail for their relief requests, investigators said they withdrew the money from different locations, on different days and times, and in varying amounts across purpose of evading the attention of the authorities.

Richmond brokered a plea deal that requires him to plead guilty but pay restitution no more than $382,000. He calls for an additional sentence of no less than around four years in prison.

Breaux’s attorney, Austin Dove, did not respond to phone and email requests for comment Friday night.

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