Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Two pleas guilty to unemployment benefit fraud scheme

SAN DIEGO—A man and woman who participated in a scheme to fraudulently use prison inmates’ personal information to receive unemployment benefits have pleaded guilty to felony charges of making false statements on an unemployment application.

Ryan Kubista and Marichelle Marquez, both 34, filed their pleas on Sept. 30, nearly six months after the San Diego County District Attorney (DA) office announced charges against them.

Kubista and Marquez are expected to be sentenced to a state prison next month. Co-defendant Stacy Wright, 62, has been charged, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for next month.

The DA’s office said that after fraudulently applying for benefits, all three had Department of Employment Development (EDD) benefits and EDD Bank of America debit cards mailed to their homes or PO boxes in Escondido, Carlsbad and Vista Were. According to the DA’s office, defendants received more than $1.3 million in illegal payments for using the identities of at least 64 inmates to apply for benefits.

The case is one of several across California related to allegations by prison inmates and others of defrauding the state unemployment benefits system amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Locally, the San Diego County DA’s office announced in January that the nine defendants were charged with conspiracy, grand theft and making false statements to claim unemployment benefits in relation to a scheme that allegedly allowed those defendants to face unemployment. Had netted over $160,000 in payments.

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All nine defendants were male prisoners assigned to the community re-entry program, which allows some prisoners to serve the final months of their sentences halfway through. According to the DA’s office, the men allegedly lied on the EDD application form and violated state prison rules with regard to applying for public assistance to receive illegal payments, which are used for everything from luxury items to food delivery from restaurants. Everything was up to buy.

Federal prosecutors in San Diego have accused former EDD contract employee Nykaa Gomez of conspiring with her inmate boyfriend to submit fraudulent pandemic unemployment insurance claims for California state inmates and out-of-state residents whose identity information was stolen. Went.

Gomez pleaded guilty earlier this year to an increase in counts of fraud and identity theft and is due to be sentenced in December.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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