On September 23rd, 2019

San Jose Man Sentenced in Unemployment Benefits Fraud Scheme California EDD assisted with investigation

SACRAMENTO – On September 19, 2019, Russell White III, 38, of San Jose, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud the state of California by filing false unemployment insurance claims.

According to court documents, between July 22, 2015, and July 14, 2016, White conspired with others to defraud the state of California. Pamela Emanuel, 58, of San Jose, worked as a tax compliance representative for the California Employment Development Department (EDD). She allegedly used her position to access the personal identifying information of workers throughout California, and her conspirators used that information to file fraudulent unemployment claims in the names of the unknowing victims.

White participated in the scheme by receiving and facilitating EDD documents at two Turlock addresses associated with or controlled by him and using at least 12 EDD debit cards issued in the names of identity-theft victims to withdraw the fraudulently obtained benefits. In total, the conspirators filed at least 269 false claims seeking more than $2.4 million in fraudulent benefits. EDD’s actual overpayment was approximately $887,199.

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, Investigations Division.

“Unemployment benefits are there for people who suddenly find themselves without work, to assist them and their families while they search for new employment,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  “I am grateful to the investigators who put a stop to this fraudulent scheme.”

Three other co-conspirators have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in relation to this scheme:

  • On August 16, 2018, Brittany Maunakea was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and ordered to pay $139,000 in restitution.
  • On September 20, 2018, Sergio Doriante Sanchez Reyna was sentenced to four years and three months in prison and ordered to pay $436,000 in restitution.
  • On February 22, 2019, Gregory Lee of Antioch was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to pay $353,000 in restitution.

The charges against Emanuel are pending; she is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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