San Francisco, California (Crohn) – The California Department of Justice indicted charges in two COVID-19 unemployment benefits fraud plans on Thursday.
One case concerned prisoners at Chuchilla Prison, and the second involved a woman from Roseville.
US Attorney McGregor W. Scott said hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from the California Department of Employment Development which was earning those who are struggling financially throughout the pandemic.
US attorney Scott said, “The US Attorney’s office is committed to a mission of combating fraud that abuses the provisions of the CARES Act.” “We will work with every major law enforcement agency to investigate and prosecute fraud arising from the pandemic. Theft of these taxpayer money will not be tolerated with the aim of helping our citizens at a very difficult economic time.”
On Thursday, a federal grand jury in Fresno indicted prisoner Shulanda Thomas, 36, and released Christina Smith, 37, of conducting a prison-based scheme outside the central California women’s facility in Chuchilla.
to me Court documents“They were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by mail, heavy charges of identity theft for filing multiple fraudulent Thomas Unemployment Insurance claims,” and names of other CCWF inmates. “
Through the prison calls and recorded emails, officials were able to show that the two were able to obtain the names, date of birth, and Social Security numbers of other CCWF inmates who were presented with the debit cards.
False claims described inmates as hairdressers or barbers, along with other job titles.
This scheme resulted in a loss of $ 200,000 for EDD and the United States.
Andrea M. Gervais, 43, was involved in the second fraudulent scheme.
Gervais was a former EDD employee accused of a mail planner with around 100 fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims in names of people other than Gervais.
The criminal complaint states that at least 12 of these claims were processed resulting in Gervais receiving over $ 200,000 in unemployment benefits.
The documents state that “the total value of all fraudulent PUA claims from her domicile was at least $ 2 million”.
On Tuesday, Gervais was arrested on a federal complaint. She was released on bail and is awaiting further procedures.
Thomas and Smith face 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and an additional two years for identity theft, if found guilty.
Gervais faces 20 years in prison for mail fraud, if found guilty.
They will also have a maximum fine of $ 250,000 per county.
Mark S. Gillardouchi, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services: “Today’s announcement reflects our collaborative commitment to working together across all levels of government and highlights that mutual cooperation and the ‘one team, one battle’ approach is already paying off.” And a California Homeland Security Adviser. “ From now on, this state coordination task force will continue to be laser focused on continuing to increase coordination with our partners in the US Attorney’s Office, attorney general offices, and with other state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, to continue outside the criminal activity and fraud that has occurred within the unemployment and accountability system. Officials in the end. “
“The Department of Economic Development is committed to combating aggressive fraud attacks against the unemployment benefits system and is grateful for the cooperative efforts of the federal, state and local partners in this common goal,” said Nancy Farias, EDD’s Deputy Director of Foreign Affairs and Legislation. And politics. “EDD has enhanced fraud detection and prevention tools to ensure that only valid claimants receive benefits in a timely fashion. We will work with law enforcement to hold accountable those seeking to defraud the unemployment system.”
To read the court document in full, click here.