Bowie and Laurel residents are among 9 accused Prosecutors say group conspired to collect $1.6 million in unemployment insurance money in covid-19 pandemic fraud CASE

Two Bowie residents and a Laurel man conspired with others to collect $1.6 million in unemployment insurance money during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

An indictment delivered by a federal grand jury last month alleges that Heaven Tiffany Lawson28, and Sayquan Leon Bridges, 27, both of Bowie, as well as Christophe Thomas Yancy30, of Laurel, worked with six others to file at least 213 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in Maryland and California.

start around March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nine defendants worked together for more than a year to use the personal information of others to file unauthorized unemployment claims and collect additional benefits granted by law CARES. According to the indictment filed in US District Court of Maryland in Baltimore on June 21st and unsealed within the last two weeks.

The nine are charged with conspiracy, aggravated impersonation and multiple counts of wire fraud. Laurel resident Yancy faces an additional charge for possession of a stolen key that matched a US Postal Service lock, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the defendants could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for conspiracy and for each count of wire fraud, prosecutors said in a press release. They could also face an additional two years on the aggravated impersonation charge. Yancy could face an additional sentence of up to 10 years if convicted of mail fraud.

Also named in the indictment are Dementrous Von Smith, 26, of WaldorfNadine

Mahoro Mwamikazi, 25, from silver spring, Christian Malik Adrea24, from Michellville, Stephawn Malik Watson, 26, from Neighborhood Heightsand Aiyana Mone Washington26 years old, Glenarden. All eight are represented by different attorneys, according to court records. The name of a ninth defendant is redacted on the indictment.

Both Washington and Watson pleaded not guilty to all counts at their respective arraignments earlier this month. Electronic court records did not show arraignment dates for the other defendants.

Others have been accused of making fraudulent claims Maryland unemployment benefits during the pandemic: Christopher Kenneth Guy30 years old, from Tampa, Floridapleaded guilty to US District Court of Maryland in February for wire fraud and identity theft for submitting false unemployment claims in multiple states, including Maryland. He was sentenced last month to more than five years in federal prison.

Other cases involving pandemic relief funds for businesses: Rudolph Brooks Jr.45 years old, from Cheltenhamawaits further prosecution after being charged with wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a $1.5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan. And last month, Dana Hayes37 years old, from Baltimorewas charged with wire fraud, money laundering and impersonation after prosecutors said he made false statements on applications for business relief loans.

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