Large-scale unemployment fraud by inmates (including Scott Peterson) bilks California taxpayers out of nearly $1 billion

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Welcome to California.

A task force led by district attorneys from several California counties announced Tuesday, November 24, that fraudulent COVID unemployment claims filed in the name of jail and prison inmates has resulted in massive unemployment claims and payouts amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, prosecutors from the task force described the scam as “what appears to be the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history.”

According to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, COVID unemployment fraud is rampant in every type of incarceration facility, including jails, prisons, and federal institutions in California. 

Schubert stated that from March 2020 through August 2020, 35,000 claims were filed in the name of California state prison inmates alone.  20,000 of those claims have been paid, which totals approximately $140 million.  The payments are typically made in the form of prepaid debit cards.

That amount does not include additional widespread fraud by inmates, who have not always filed under their own names.  Some have successfully filed under false names such as John Doe, John Adams, or even “Poopy Pants.”

Such success is embarrassing, said Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who told KTVU:

“We’re going to be the laughingstock of the United States, that we’re sending, potentially, a billion dollars to criminals with names like “John Doe” and “Poopy Pants.”

Some claims are not sent directly to the incarcerated.  Some are sent to addresses outside the facility, and co-conspirators have then sent funds back to the inmate in the form debit cards or money orders.

The beneficiaries of this scam also include 133 death row inmates.  One unnamed death row inmate received $19,676 directly in his or her name.  In August 2020 alone, death row inmates received $420,000 in the form of prepaid debit cards.

The highest amount paid to an individual inmate was about $49,000, and one inmate was found to have filed 16 claims.

Some recipients are those who have already committed horrors, and they shockingly continue to commit crimes against California taxpayers from behind bars.

According to the New York Times, examples include:

“Cary Stayner, a serial killer who murdered four women near Yosemite National Park in 1999; 

“Wayne Ford, another serial killer, who confessed to at least four murders in 1997 and 1998 in Northern California;

“Scott Peterson, convicted in 2004 of the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci;

“and Isauro Aguirre, who, with his girlfriend, tortured and murdered her 8-year-old son, Gabriel Fernandez, in 2013 in Palmdale, Calif.”

One prime example of how relatively easy it can be California to game the EDD system is the case of rapper Fontrell Antonio Baines, whose stage name is “Nuke Bizzle.”

Baines, a resident of Los Angeles, managed to obtain over $1.2 million in unemployment benefits by having 92 pre-loaded debit cards sent to various local addresses under different names.

Baines premiered a video in September called “EDD,” in which he and another rapper bragged about getting rich through the EDD, or California’s Employment Development Department.

Authorities caught up to Baines in Las Vegas, where the rapper was holding eight debit cards.  Only one of the cards was in his name.

Officials learned much about how EDD fraud has been perpetrated in the California jail and prison system when they made a large bust of a fraud ring in San Mateo County.

At the San Mateo Jail, 30 inmates had friends and relatives on the outside file fraudulent unemployment claims on their behalf.  Cards loaded with up to $20,000 were mailed to the co-conspirators, who then withdrew a cut of 3 to 4 thousand dollars, and then delivered the debit card to the inmate.

San Mateo deputy District Attorney Sean Riordan described the scheme as “kind of a big spider web,” as the scam extended beyond the San Mateo Jail and into Corcoran State Prison, the San Francisco County Jail, and the California State Prison in Sacramento.

So far in the San Mateo case, 21 people, consisting of 13 prisoners and 8 accomplices, have been charged.  Ironically, one of these criminals is at large, having paid at least part of his $1 million bail with money obtained through EDD fraud.

However, that leaves large amounts of money and vast numbers of prisoners still perpetrating fraud.  The prosecutor task force has placed blame for the success of this widespread fraud at the feet of the California’s EDD.

According to KTVU, District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and her fellow prosecutors on the task force “denounc[ed]” the EDD for not checking inmate lists against claimants.  Such a process is part of the routine in 35 states.

In addition, Schubert castigated the EDD for not checking where the funds were directed, since many payouts were sent directly to prisons and jails.  She also criticized the EDD for not addressing clearly fake names such as “John Doe” or “Poopy Britches.”

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaff told KTVU that the EDD claimed it was unable to stop the flow of funds unless charges were filed against claimants.

He said:

“What we were told is that, under the regulations that they were all bound by, the EDD, they could not cut the people off until we filed the charges.”

For their part, the EDD told KTVU that they are now trying to compare suspicious claims with inmate names.

The EDD added:

“We’re also pursuing how to integrate cross-matches moving forward as part of enhanced prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of pandemic-related unemployment across the country.”

Meanwhile, those who are actually eligible for the unemployment benefits are being hurt in two additional ways.

First, according to El Dorado County D.A. Vern Pearson, legitimate claimants are having trouble getting through to EDD because they do not know how to walk through the process like the inmate fraud rings do.

Pearson told KTVU:

“They are unable to get money because they don’t know the system the same way the inmates do.”

Second, at least 350,000 EDD card recipients have found that EDD has frozen their cards in an attempt to investigate and stop fraud.  Unfortunately, this means that some legitimate claimants have been prevented from accessing their benefits.  Furthermore, this is an unexpected maneuver, considering that the EDD claimed it could not do anything about fraud until charges were filed.

In recent weeks, the EDD’s examination of the backlog of nearly 1.6 million claims has not borne much fruit in identifying and stopping fraud.  Sadly for non-criminals, according to Politico, the majority of beneficiaries flagged for possible discrepancies were, in fact, legitimate.  Fraudulent claims, on the other hand, “sailed through the automated system.”

The task force of California prosecutors has asked California Governor Gavin Newsom for “significant resources” to combat the widespread fraud.

Newsom issued a statement in response to that request on Tuesday, November 24.

Calling the unemployment fraud in jails and prisons “absolutely unacceptable,” Newsom added that he had already called on the EDD to review fraud, but acknowledged “we need to do more.”

He continued:

“To expedite and strengthen these efforts I have directed the Office of Emergency Services to stand up a task force to coordinate state efforts and support investigations by local District Attorneys. 

“We will continue to fully partner with law enforcement and direct as many resources as needed to investigate and resolve this issue speedily.”

Effective action is certainly urgently needed to avoid further stealing from taxpayers and diversion of resources from legitimate claimants.

As District Attorney Schubert said:

“We are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in the name of serial killers, rapists and child molesters. We need to turn the spigot off.”

Is Scott Peterson about to walk free? CA Supreme court orders review of his conviction

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In 2004, Scott Peterson was convicted of the murders of his wife, Laci Rocha Peterson, and her unborn child, Conner. It’s surprising to see, nearly 18 years later, aspects with the case still going through the court system.

But the California Supreme Court has recently ordered a reexamination of Scott Peterson’s murder conviction due to some alleged mishandling of the jury selection process during Peterson’s trial.

Here’s the background on the case and what’s going on currently.

On December 24th of 2002, Laci was first reported as having disappeared.

Of course, after a sordid investigation process and scandals coming to light, police arrested Peterson on April 18th for the murder of Laci and her unborn child following the discovery of their bodies and other evidence.

On June 1st of 2004, the trial kicked off against Peterson and after a vast array of evidence was presented by the prosecution, a conviction of guilty was reached on November 12th of 2004.

Between November 30th and December 13th of that year, the jury proceeded with the penalty phase of the trial and delivered a sentence of death for Peterson.

Come March 16th of 2005, Judge Alfred Delucchi followed through with the jury’s verdict and stipulated that Peterson would be put to death via lethal injection.

But in July of 2012, Peterson’s legal team began their series of challenges against his conviction and sentencing.

While there were literally years of back and forth between the state and Peterson’s legal defense on the conviction reached, it was on August 24th of 2020 that the California Supreme Court ordered that Peterson’s death sentence be overturned – but his conviction would remain.

The rationale for this stems from Judge Alfred Delucchi having dismissed jurors during the selection process prior to trial because they were opposed to the death penalty.

But now the latest alleged jury mishandling during the trial phase comes in the form of one of the jury members possibly being biased.

When it comes to jury selection, if there’s evidence to show that an empaneled jury member was biased during a trial, then it can sometimes lead to convictions being tossed.

On October 14th, the California Supreme Court ordered a trial judge to review whether Peterson’s conviction should be overturned and thus grant Peterson a new trial because a juror during the trial had “failed to disclose that she had once feared for her unborn child when being harassed by the ex-girlfriend of her boyfriend.”

Basically, a jury member, specifically Juror Number 7, was alleged to have endured worries akin to what actually happened to Laci. According to a brief order, the case has been sent over to the San Mateo County Superior Court to ponder whether a new trial which read:

“Juror No. 7 committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings, including but not limited to being the victim of a crime.”

Juror number 7, identified as Richelle Nice, had obtained a restraining order against a woman in 2000 when she was roughly four-months pregnant.

She had filed a lawsuit against the woman along with the restraining order, noting that she feared for her unborn child based upon threats she’d received from the woman.

During the jury selection process, Nice was asked whether she’d ever been the victim of a crime or if she was ever involved in a lawsuit.

Nice answered “no” to both of the questions.

Now just because a trial judge is examining the case, it does not automatically mean that Peterson’s conviction will be overturned and he’ll be granted a new trial.

The trial judge may very well examine the claims and find there’s not enough alleged misconduct to throw out the conviction.

But the mere fact that this is being examined also illustrates the immense importance of ensuring that the jury selection process goes untainted – especially on a case that garners national attention.

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Barr: Department of Justice will fight to reinstate the death penalty for the Boston marathon bomber

BOSTON, MA – For the time being, the Boston bomber is not facing execution.  But now he’s facing a fight from U.S. Attorney General William Barr. 

The Justice Department announced Thursday its plan to seek to reinstate a death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of plotting and carrying out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. 

Speaking to the Associated Press, Barr said the Justice Department will take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. 

He said the department will appeal a July ruling that threw out Tsarnaev’s death sentence and ordered a trial that will decide if he should be executed for his role in the attack. 

A 1st U.S. Circuit court panel of judges ruled that the judge who oversaw Tsarnaev’s trial did not thoroughly question potential jurors about their media exposure to the case, which has made national headlines for years. 

Barr told the AP: 

“We will do whatever’s necessary. We will take it up to the Supreme Court and we will continue to pursue the death penalty.” 

Tsarnaev, together with his brother, carried out the attack on April 15, 2013. They used two homemade pressure cooker bombs to kill three people and wound more than 260 others, including 17 people who lost limbs. 

They detonated the bombs near the finish line, in two separate blasts timed to be less than 30 seconds apart. 

In the chaos that followed, the Tsarnaev brothers vanished. 

On April 18, they resurfaced. In an attempt to steal his gun, they shot and killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police officer. 

The next day the brothers got into a shoot-out with police after officers identified the men in a stolen SUV. 

26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in that gunfight, and after being run over by the SUV his brother was driving as he fled. 

The shooting injured 17 officers, including one who was hit by a hand grenade and died just one year later. 

Hours later, police captured Tsarnaev in a Boston suburb where he was hiding in a boat parked in a backyard. 

Prosecutors told jurors that he wrote inside the boat before his capture: 

“Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.” 

They said during the trial that the attack was an attempt to punish Americans for its role in wars in Muslim countries. 

On Thursday, also speaking with the AP, Massachusetts’ U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said that while he respects the voices of those asking prosecutors to stop pursuing the death penalty, Tsarnaev’s crimes “place him in that narrow category of criminals for whom death is a proportional punishment.” 

In a statement to the news outlet, he wrote: 

“Some have argued that executing Tsarnaev will not deter others from pursuing similar crimes. But, ultimately, this decision is not about deterrence. It is about justice.” 

In 2015, a jury convicted the now 27-year-old on 30 charges which include the killing of the MIT officer and use of a weapon of mass destruction. 

His attorneys argued at trial that their client was lured into committing the crime by his older brother, and that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a radicalized mastermind.

They admitted that the pair carried out the deadly attack. 

Last month’s decision to take the death penalty off the table was a blow to Bostonians, including the survivors of the attack who took part in the 2015 trial. 

Prosecutors have said they hope the nation’s highest court will resolve the issue to spare survivors from enduring a second trial. 

Barr has already demonstrated that he will not back away from pursuing federal executions. Under his leadership, the Justice Department has resumed federal executions. Last year, he directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to resume executions after nearly two decades without. 

Quoted then by CNBC, Barr said: 

“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law, and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.” 

Boston to disband the SWAT team that captured Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

August 5, 2020 – BOSTON, MA – Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis talked with Fox & Friends on Tuesday about the decision to disband Boston’s SWAT team.

This is the same team that was responsible for the capture of the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2013.

“The thing I worry about is the special expertise that these officers have in the SWAT team.”

Without the team, that expertise is gone also, such as how to enter subway cars for maximum effect and safety.

The reasons?  The team hasn’t been used in several years and it is expensive to maintain. Given diminishing resources that could be used on more urgent needs, it makes sense in the context of an analysis of the history of the department. 

The police department in nearby Framingham made a similar decision in 2013.

That team had the additional complication of an accidental fatal shooting at the location of a 2011 raid that drew criticism from the victim’s family and the community. Keeping that in mind, the expense, and how rarely the team was used, they decided to give up their SWAT team.

To be sure they were covered in an emergency, they made an agreement with the state to send in a nearby SWAT team if needed – possibly from Boston. But that team is about to go away also.

There are other SWAT teams in Massachusetts to go to, as long as they aren’t disbanded also.

In the context of the history of the last couple of months, there are some new issues to consider. First, riots in many cities around the country, including Boston, suggest the need for SWAT teams, whether for local use or to assist nearby regions.

Second, the experience, once lost, cannot be recreated on demand. It will take time and training. Even if funding is provided at a later date, there will be a delay before new teams are trained, equipment updated, and facilities allocated.

Last, the cities that seem to need the SWAT teams the most are the ones that are least likely to use them, thus increasing the need while simultaneously reducing their ability to deal with it.

Boston mayor Marty Walsh, for instance, has pledged to defund Boston police by at least $12 million, or 20 percent of their overtime budget.

A decision like that might make more sense if we all lived in Utopia, a place where crime has been eradicated, and Marxist agitators like Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Fascist groups like Antifa aren’t manufacturing fake racist incidents as a pretext to incite nationwide violence and rioting.

The urge to save money by disbanding an expensive but unnecessary luxury makes sense, but only if it really is unnecessary.

Disbanding Boston PD’s SWAT team is like getting rid of all the smoke alarms in a building because they haven’t gone off yet, and they haven’t gone off because elected officials have removed all the batteries.

That is what we are seeing with riots around the country: a need for law enforcement that exceeds normal demands by several orders of magnitude.

Elected officials would have us believe we need less law enforcement, for fear we’ll antagonize the criminals destroying our cities.

No. We need more law enforcement to eradicate the violence, prevent harm to our cities and citizens, and punish the offenders.

As Americans, we have the right to free speech and assembly but not the right to commit crimes while doing it. Moreover, the real danger isn’t police or SWAT teams, but cowardly mayors, governors, and other officials who would rather capitulate to criminal demands than defend the people that elected them.

We know that the police are ready and willing to protect and serve, but what about city leadership?

Based on recent events, it doesn’t look like it. What those officials desire, based on recent behavior, is to coddle favor with the enemies of law and order.

The mere fact that any of them have contemplated defunding police departments in their regions should be enough to consider impeaching the  mayors in question.

The fact that several cities have already voted to defund police departments should make impeachment of those public officials responsible an absolute necessity if peace is to be restored.

Forget “defund the police”, how about “Defund the Mayors”, like Bill DeBlasio in New York City, Marty Walsh in Boston, Ted Wheeler in Portland, Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, Jenny Durkan in Seattle, and others.


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