California inmates accused of stealing $1 billion in virus unemployment aid

California inmates are accused of 'mocking' the system in the unemployment fraud

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Some prisoners in California have racked up more than enough cash for a rainy day but the downfall is that they stole it from the government.  

At least 35,000 unemployment claims were filed on behalf of inmates or those posing as inmates between March and August in the state. Some of the claims were even filed in the names of death row inmates according to NBC Los Angeles. The state paid out more than $140 million in benefits.

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Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento County District Attorney says, “Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us.”

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(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

158 claims of the claims were in the names of the 133 inmates on death row.

One of the inmates was convicted murderer Scott Peterson. Peterson was convicted in 2004 of killing his pregnant wife Laci Peterson, and of second-degree murder of killing their unborn son. Another benefit receiver was Isauro Aguirre, the man sentenced to death in 2018 for the murder of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez. In his short 8 years of life, Fernandez was subjected to pain and abuse from people like Aguirre who were supposed to take care of him. His story was the subject of the Netflix film, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez.

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“Unemployment fraud across local jails and state and federal prisons is absolutely unacceptable,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom per a statement to NBC 4 Los Angeles. He says California will “continue to fully partner with law enforcement and direct as many resources as needed to investigate and resolve this issue speedily.”

The state does not check against a list of inmates when distributing benefits.

“Pursuing how to integrate such cross-matches moving forward as part of enhanced prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of pandemic-related unemployment fraud across the country,” said Loree Levy the deputy director of the Employment Development Department to NBC News, per The Hill.

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