El Dorado inmates charged for allegedly stealing over $90k in unemployment benefits
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office filed a five count criminal complaint charging six people with felony fraud charges related to stealing over $90,000 in unemployment insurance benefits from the Employment Development Department by jail inmates and their co-conspirators “on the outside,” officials announced Friday.
The complaint alleges that between July and September of 2020, John Ryan, Marisa Moreno, Matthew Henson, and Calvin Schaefer, who were then inmates at the El Dorado County Jail, conspired with Ryan Taylor and Rosalie Bradley, who were not incarcerated, to defraud the unemployment insurance system by filing claim forms which falsely asserted that the inmates had spent the coverage period “looking for work” and “able to accept work” even though their custody status made that impossible.
Nevertheless, there were no quality control checks performed on these applications, and EDD ultimately issued $90,684 in unemployment insurance benefits to the four inmates.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment insurance benefits the defendants charged in this case received had been increased dramatically over what they typically would have been due to the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, passed by Congress last March, which added an additional $600 to each bi-weekly disbursement.
On Wednesday, John Ryan and Rosalie Bradley were arraigned in El Dorado County Superior Court. If convicted, both defendants face up to five years in prison and $50,000 fines in addition to restitution paid to EDD.
Officials said the remaining four defendants will be arraigned at a later date and they face similar penalties if convicted.
This case is the third EDD fraud case to be filed in the county since the beginning of the year. In total, 11 defendants have been charged with a loss amount in excess of $140,000.
Currently, the District Attorney’s Office is investigating 40 additional unemployment Insurance benefit fraud cases involving other inmates at the jail and their co-conspirators.
Statewide, thousands of similar investigations have been opened, and it has recently been estimated by the state auditor that the known EDD fraud exceeds $10 billion. Out of that amount, it is believed that at least $800 million in fraudulently acquired benefits were issued in the names of inmates incarcerated in the state’s jails and prisons.
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