California woman receives unemployment in U.S. senator’s name

December 17, 2020

Federal prosecutors charged three California women involved in two unemployment benefit fraud schemes that netted over $400,000. Two of the women were involved with inmate fraud while a third was a former Employment Development Department employee who impersonated a U.S. Senator.

On Thursday, a federal Grand Jury indicted Chowchilla Correctional Women’s Facility inmate Sholanda Thomas, 36, and parolee Christina Smith, 37, for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges for the submission of several fraudulent EDD unemployment insurance claims in Thomas’ and other Chowchilla inmates’ names.

Recorded jail calls and emails show that Thomas and others engaged in “bundling,” that is, they obtained the names, dates of birth, and social security numbers for inmates and relayed that information to Smith. From outside the prison, Smith submitted claims that falsely stated that the inmates had worked within the prescribed period as hairstylists, barbers, and other occupations, and that they were available to work, which was not true because they were incarcerated.

The benefits were loaded onto debit cards and mailed to addresses Smith provided.

Smith kept Thomas’ share in a shoebox awaiting Thomas’ release from prison, while Smith spent a portion of her money on plastic surgery.

If convicted, Thomas and Smith face maximum statutory penalties of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and mandatory and additional two-year prison sentences if convicted of aggravated identity theft.

In the second scheme, Andrea Gervais, 43, of Roseville – a former Employment Development Department employee – allegedly participated in a mail fraud scheme involving approximately 100 fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims. According to the criminal complaint, at least 12 of the 100 claims were processed for payment, and over $200,000 in PUA benefits were paid out to Gervais’s Roseville address in the form of Bank of America debit cards.

The investigation began when investigators discovered a PUA claim using the identity of a sitting U.S. Senator for approximately $21,000. This claim was processed for payment, and Gervais received a PUA debit card in the United States Senator’s name.

Bank of America ATM cameras captured Gervais on multiple occasions withdrawing cash from at least seven of the PUA debit cards, and at least one captured transaction showed Gervais using the debit card issued to the United States Senator.

Gervais was arrested on federal complaint on Tuesday. If convicted, Gervais faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for mail fraud. Each defendant also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 on each count.


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LameCommenter

They should petition for a change of court venue to Los Angeles County where the newly elected DA is dropping any and all sentencing enhancement filings at the behest of campaign donor Soros. A couple mil donor according to reports.


Yeah, I know, these are federal charges not state charges, but with the general collapse of our prosecutorial system, they’d likely get cut almost scot-free by a Los Angeles Southern District federal judge as well.


mazin

To my three dear embezzlers and their associates,

QUICK pay a bundle to the Trump political machine and get Presidential pardons!!

Your coastal elitist friend,

mazin


Paso_citizen

We homo sapiens are a wonderful bunch! Always looking out for nobody, but ourselves. Greed. greed. and more greed..

And in case you have not yet been called – did you know you can buy COVID-19 vaccine?

1 vial for 3 payments of only $79.95 each – needles and band-aids included.


mazin

Hmmm and chance that you are getting the real vaccine?


NorthCountyLady

The amount paid out to inmates who participated in EDD fraud is astounding. Currently estimated to be between $400 million and $1 Billion. Taxpayers money that is forever lost. These criminals will never pay any fines levied against them. As outrageous as it is that total incompetency by the EDD and our State Government led to this, there is even more outrageous happenings that is not widely being talked about in the media.


The federal government has deemed that being incarcerated does not preclude an inmate or patient at a State Hospital who has committed a serious felony from receiving a $1200.00 stimulus check from the first round of payments. It costs approximately $81,000.00 per year to house an inmate in a California State Prison such as CMC and $250,000.00 a year to house a patient in a State Hospital such as ASH. That includes their food, medical treatments, mental health treatments, clothes, etc. These same individuals are now receiving $ 1,200.00 stimulus checks that many of us received in mid April. And the inmates and patients did not have to commit fraud to get their money. Our Federal Government deemed they were entitled to this money just like the rest of us who are working and endangering our health or have lost their jobs and are struggling through this pandemic. Many of these inmates and patients have not worked in years or decades. Many are lifers. Why they are being given this money is beyond my scope of comprehension. Where is the taxpayer outrage over this? I guess most of us including myself are too overwhelmed by our own personal struggles with financial difficulties due to cut hours, concern over our safety in our places of employment, our children not being able to go to school, job losses, depression, and anxiety to have the emotional energy to make a ruckus about this, but elected officials, this is your job! So someone in government, please make a ruckus! This is what I call legal theft from taxpayers.


mazin

Great points!


slomark

And the senator’s name?


Mike

feinstein.