Tens of thousands of prison inmates and prisoners, including convicted serial killers Infamous prisoners like Scott Peterson, They carried out what prosecutors Tuesday described as possibly the largest fraud scheme in California history.
The alleged crimes are centered around Epidemic unemployment benefitsSacramento County Prosecutor Ann Marie Schubert said it could reach one billion dollars.
“The fraud is frankly amazing,” she said.
Schubert said that between March and August, inmates held in every California prison and prisons across the state filed 35,000 claims totaling $ 140 million in benefits.
Sometimes these benefits are paid directly to guests within the facilities, she said. In other cases, money was sent to relatives and friends outside prisons and prisons.
In Kern County, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said investigators were informed of the plot in September after several remittances directed to inmates arrived.
Schubert said the benefits sometimes included fake Social Security numbers and names like John Doe and John Adams or, in one case, “Prause Girls.”
She said, “Frankly, the prisoners mock us.”
In other cases, real name claims have been submitted. They included 133 of the 700 prisoners sentenced to death in the state, including convicted criminals such as Carrie Stner, who killed four people near Yosemite National Park in 1999; Susan Eubank, who killed her four children in 1996; And Peterson, who killed his wife and unborn son in 2002.
Earlier this year, Peterson’s death sentence was overturned after the state’s Supreme Court Ruled that “serious mistakes” occurred During jury selection at his trial. The prosecution He said They will once again seek the death penalty in the case.
Asked about the amount of fraud related to Peterson’s claim, another prosecutor in Schubert’s office said, “We know the number,” but refused to present it, citing an ongoing investigation.
Peterson’s attorney, Pat Harris, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, but told the Associated Press that investigators would find “he has nothing to do with any kind of scheme to obtain fraudulent benefits.”
Schubert said claims totaling $ 420,000 were paid to the death row inmates.
She said the fraud could be carried out because, unlike 35 other states, California lacks a system that “matches” prison and prison data with unemployment claims.
In a statement, Lori Levy, deputy director of the state’s Department of Economic Development, said she is “seeking how to integrate such cross-matches going forward as part of enhanced prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of unemployment fraud linked to the pandemic across the country.”
The ministry declined to comment on specific allegations, citing confidentiality requirements.
in a A pass for NBC Los AngelesCalifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom described the fraud as “totally unacceptable” and said he had directed emergency services officials to form a task force to help address the problem.