Five men charged with an unemployment fraud scheme that bilked $5 million dollars from unemployment insurance benefits are now busted and face decades in prison if convicted. Our California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) members who are investigators with the Employment Development Department (EDD) saw to that.
"CSLEA can't help but shine the spotlight on the work our investigators did in this case," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "With so many people in need of unemployment benefits right now, it's deplorable to think anyone would make up fictitious companies and then recruit people to pose as workers who had been laid off."
According to a United States Department of Justice press release, a Sacramento federal grand jury issued a 20-count indictment charging the five men, all from Southern California. The indictment alleges the men registered fictitious employers with EDD and then found people to pose as employees who had been laid off by those fake companies. The fake employees would then collect unemployment benefits based on wages reported to EDD by the fictitious employers. The indictment alleges the five men then collected a portion of the unemployment benefits from those they recruited to pose as fake laid-off workers. The press release reports more than $5 million in fraudulent benefits were paid out as a result of this scheme.
This case was cracked open after a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General and the Criminal Investigations Division of EDD. The EDD investigators on this case are members of the California Association of Fraud Investigators (CAFI), an affiliate of CSLEA.
"The criminal investigators for EDD work very hard in fighting fraud in unemployment insurance, disability insurance and employer tax evasion," said CAFI board director for EDD Daniel Schmidt. "The criminal investigators for EDD enjoy what they do and continue to fight for taxpayers. As criminal investigators, they attempt to stop all illegal payments and bring the offenders to justice."
The men arrested are identified as:
Kenneth Kim Parks, 50, of Pomona
Andre Antonio Walters, 32 of Long Beach
Gregory Bart Martin, 31 of Lakewood
Michael Ray Taylor, Sr., 46, of Fontana
Michael Ray Taylor, Jr., 27 or El Monte
If convicted, the men face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.