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California inmate pleads guilty to $100,000 COVID fund fraud

Posted at 4:24 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 19:24:21-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California prison inmate has pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal more than $100,000 in unemployment benefits.

The money was supposed to help those who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. It's one of numerous thefts that authorities say together topped $810 million.

Alana Powers, a 45-year-old inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, and 51-year-old Jason Vertz of Fresno, each pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say emails and recorded phone calls show Powers and other prison inmates provided Vertz with the personal identifying information he needed to submit the unemployment applications.