Thousands of prison and prison inmates, including convicted serial killers and notorious inmates like Scott Peterson, executed what prosecutors described as the biggest fraud scheme in California history on Tuesday.
Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said the alleged crimes, which focused on epidemic unemployment benefits, could total $ 1 billion.
“Cheating is faltering honestly,” he said.
Between March and August, Schubert said, inmates were housed in every California jail and claimed $ 140 million in jails across the state, totaling $ 35,000.
Sometimes those benefits were paid directly to inmates inside the facilities, she said. In other cases, the money was sent to relatives and friends outside jails and jails.
In Kern County, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said investigators were informed of the plan in September, after which several money orders were destined for inmates.
Sometimes the benefits included fake Social Security numbers and names like John Doe, John Adams or, in one case, “Puppy Brights”, Shubert said.
“Very clearly, the prisoners have made fun of us,” she said.
In other cases, claims with real names were made. These included 133 of the state’s 700 death prisoners, including convicted criminals such as Carrie Steiner, who killed four people in 1999 near Yosemite National Park; Susan Eubank, who killed her four sons in 1996; And Peterson, who killed his wife and unborn son in 2002.
Earlier this year, Peterson’s death penalty was overturned following a state high court ruling that there were “significant errors” during jury selection at his trial. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty again in the case.
Shubert did not state whether Peterson was paid. He merely stated that the claim was filed.
A lawyer for Peterson, Pat Harris, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, but told the Associated Press that investigators would find that “he had nothing to do with any kind of plan to profit from the fraud.” was.”
Schubert said a total of $ 420,000 was claimed for the death penalty inmates.
She said fraud could be executed because unlike 35 other states, California lacks a system that “cross-matches” prison and prison data with unemployment claims.
Loree Levy, deputy director of the state’s Department of Economic Development, said in a statement, “How to pursue such cross-matches as part of increased prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of pandemic-related unemployment fraud across the country.” Integrated, it was followed. “
The department declined to comment on specific claims citing confidentiality requirements.
In a statement from the NBC Los Angeles, California government, Gavin Newsom called the fraud “absolutely unacceptable” and said he would direct emergency service officials to assemble a workforce to help deal with the problem.