Law enforcement officials arrested six members of the same Southern California family and two others Tuesday on federal charges alleging they claimed more than $1.1 million in unemployment benefits for purported employees of bogus businesses.
The nine-count indictment alleges a three-year conspiracy to cheat California’s unemployment insurance program through the creation of bogus cleaning services and boutique stores, sometimes using the names of prison inmates as phony employees to collect the benefits.
The indictment charges each of the eight defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Those named in the indictment are:
— Donna Givens, 58, of the Gramercy Park area of Los Angeles;
— Catrina Gipson, 44, of Moreno Valley, who is Givens’ niece;
— Evelyn Taylor, 36, of Gramercy Park, a daughter of Givens;
— Laron Taylor, 34, of Buena Park, a son of Givens;
— Latrice Taylor, 37, of Buena Park, a daughter of Givens;
— Raschell Taylor, 30, of San Bernardino, a daughter of Givens;
— Bianka Logie, 45, of Moreno Valley; and
— Vernisha Jolivet, 27, of Indianapolis.
If convicted of all charges, each defendant would face up to 22 years in federal prison.
Seven of the defendants were expected to be arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Jolivet was arrested in Indianapolis and will be making a court appearance in Indiana on Wednesday.
From February 2013 until July 2016, the defendants allegedly registered fake businesses with the California Employment Development Department, the administrator of the federal unemployment insurance benefit program for the state. The names of the bogus companies included Latasha’s Devining Cleaning Service, Charm Boutique, and Infinite Cleaning Service, according to the indictment.
Givens, Laron Taylor, and Raschell Taylor allegedly opened and maintained post office boxes responsible for receiving the fake businesses’ mail, prosecutors said.
Logie, Jolivet, and Evelyn Taylor filed claims for unemployment insurance in their own names, claiming unemployment from the fake businesses created by the co-conspirators, the indictment alleges. Other times, the conspirators allegedly filed unemployment insurance claims using the names of other people, including prison inmates.
After being supplied California EDD-funded debit cards, the defendants allegedly withdrew funds from the cards that were in the name of other claimants. In total, the defendants fraudulently obtained over $1.1 million in unemployment insurance benefits, according to the indictment.
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