SACRAMENTO- On June 25, 2019, John Michael Herron II, 38, of Stockton, was sentenced in federal court today to six years and three months in prison for his role in an unemployment benefits scheme that resulted in the loss to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) of nearly a half million dollars. He was sentenced for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and identity theft.
According to court documents, from at least December 2014 through January 2018, Herron participated in a scheme to defraud the State of California EDD by filing fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits. Herron and his co-defendant, Robert Maher, formerly of Stockton, created fictitious companies and fictitious employees using the real identities of people with and without their knowledge, and filed claims with EDD, falsely stating that the employees had been laid off or fired. The unemployment benefits were deposited onto debit cards that were mailed to addresses controlled by Herron, Maher, or their associates. ATM cameras captured Herron withdrawing unemployment benefit funds using a debit card registered to an identity theft victim. Herron was connected to approximately $578,185 in fraudulent claims to EDD, of which approximately $485,685 was paid out by EDD.
“Stealing from the unemployment fund is deplorable,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Hard working Californians who suddenly find themselves unemployed rely on this benefit to assist them and their families as they search for work. Thank you to EDD investigators and their law enforcement partners who investigated these individuals and stayed on the case as it was prosecuted.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the California Employment Development Department’s Investigation Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Schuller Hitchcock is prosecuting the case.
The charges against Maher are pending.