Group allegedly conspired to raise $1.6 million in pandemic insurance funds – InsuranceNewsNet

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

An indictment handed over by a federal grand jury last month alleges Sky Tiffany Lawson, 28, and Sayquan Leon Bridges, 27, both of Bowie, and Christopher Thomas Yancy, 30, of Laurel, worked along with seven others to file at least 213 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in Maryland and California.

Beginning 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 unemployment benefits. additional benefits granted by the CARES Act. Defendants instructed financial institutions to load the benefits onto debit cards mailed to them, then withdrew the money to pay for their personal expenses, according to the indictment filed in district court. American from Maryland to Baltimore on June 21 and unsealed in the past two weeks.

The nine are charged with conspiracy, aggravated impersonation and multiple counts of wire fraud. Yancy, the Laurel resident, faces additional charges for possessing a stolen key that matches a U.S. 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 Waldorf, Nadine Mahoro Mwamikazi, 25, of Silver Spring, Christian Malik Adrea, 24, of Michellville, Stephawn Malik Watson, 26, of District Heights and Aiyana Mone Washington, 26. , of 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 charged with fraudulently applying for unemployment benefits in Maryland during the pandemic: Christopher Kenneth Guy, 30, of Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty in US District Court for 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, of Cheltenham, is awaiting further proceedings after being charged with wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a loan from $1.5 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. And last month Dana Hayes, 37, of Baltimore, was charged with wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft after prosecutors said he made false statements on claims business relief loans.

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