Leader of the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance Benefits Scheme is sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $350,000 in restitution.
The ringleader of the pandemic unemployment insurance benefits scheme is sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $350,000 in restitution and you can read more about it here.
Lawrence Lawson, 41, of Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced on March 15, 2022, to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay $355,849 in restitution after pleading guilty to his role in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 pandemic unemployment insurance benefits, according to Acting US Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler.
“While the epidemic disrupted lives and forced many to lose their jobs or livelihood, Mr. Lawson and his co defendants stole government monies intended to help our neighbors and community members pay their bills and procure basic necessities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler. “This isn’t a crime with no victims.” You will be caught and held accountable if you steal from the government.“
“These individuals’ willful activities to defraud a program created to assist persons afflicted by the COVID-19 outbreak are reprehensible,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith stated. “Financial crimes concerning pandemic unemployment assistance harm self-employed people, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those who aren’t eligible for regular unemployment benefits.” The FBI will continue to cooperate closely with other federal agencies to improve the inv
estigative work that is required when investigating complicated financial fraud cases.”
“These fraudsters’ flagrant and self-serving conduct snatched federal help and support from hard working Americans who are enduring unprecedented economic challenges as a result of the global pandemic,” said HUD Office of Inspector General Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Brandon Gardner (OIG). “The HUD Office of Inspector General is committed to cooperating with law enforcement partners to maintain the integrity of federally supported housing programs and to aggressively pursue those who seek to improperly benefit from them.”
Cierra Clifton, 38, Willowick, Ohio; Emanuel Smith, 49, Cleveland, Ohio; Terrance Jones, 27, Cleveland, Ohio; Quantez Lawson, 29, Cleveland, Ohio; Charles Moore, 35, Cleveland, Ohio; and Mark Dailey, 54, Cleveland, Ohio were named as co-conspirators in the indictment.
According to court documents, Lawson would recruit co-conspirators and other individuals to file pandemic unemployment insurance benefit claims on their behalf in exchange for a part of the earnings earned from May to November 2020.
According to court papers, these individuals gave Lawson and Clifton their personal identifying information, and Clifton filed the claims on their behalf from her home in Willoughby, Ohio. Clifton filed claims with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) as well as SWAs in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, Arizona, and California.
If a claim was approved, the receiver received a pre-loaded bank-issued debit card in the mail. After that, Lawson and Clifton took a percentage of the money as compensation. Lawrence and Clifton charged an extra weekly fee to their co-conspirators to perform this service because ODJFS and the other SWAs required recertification of a jobless person’s status. If a person did not pay
this charge, Lawrence and Clifton stopped verifying their unemployment status, and their benefits were terminated.
The strategy cost the ODJFS and other SWAs around $355,849.
The following persons have already been convicted in this case (unemployment insurance benefits):
- Cierra Clifton received a 16-month sentence and was forced to pay $355,849 in reparations.
- Emmanuel Smith received a 17-month prison sentence and a $23,783 restitution order.
- Terrance Jones was sentenced to 26 months in prison and forced to pay restitution of $355,849 dollars.
- Charles Moore received an eight-month sentence and was forced to pay $15,246 in restitution.
- Quantez Lawson’s sentencing is set for March 24, 2022.