Four Individuals Indicted for Fraudulently Obtaining Pandemic Unemployment Benefits for Virginia Prison Inmates
NORFOLK, VA (STL.News) A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging four individuals with allegedly participating in a conspiracy to use the personal identifying information of 35 Virginia prison inmates in order to fraudulently obtain over $300,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants deliberately stole funds intended for members of our community who have faced financial hardship and unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “EDVA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to safeguard these critical taxpayer-funded resources and hold accountable those who unlawfully line their pockets at the expense of the American people.”
According to the indictment, Mary Benton, 38, of Portsmouth, and Angelica Cartwright-Powers, 35, of Norfolk, allegedly worked with two inmates at Virginia correctional institutions to collect the personally identifiable information of other inmates to fraudulently apply for Virginia unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Benton allegedly submitted successful applications for Virginia unemployment benefits for 31 inmates across three Virginia correctional facilities. Cartwright-Powers allegedly submitted successful applications for four inmates at one correctional facility.