Back in the 1990s, a comedian was lampooning people who wore jerseys of NBA players. “Look,” the comic said, “there’s Shaq at the unemployment office.” Something similar is now going on in real life.
As ABC News reports, “among the more than $110 billion in unemployment benefits California has paid this year to people who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus, $21,000 went to an address in Roseville under the name and Social Security number of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.” Bank of America, which contracts with the state Employment Development Department (EDD) for debit cards “flagged the claim for possible fraud.” Sen. Feinstein, California Democrat, is not quoted in the report.
Federal investigators later found “at least $2 million worth of fraudulent unemployment claims had been filed from that same address” all “linked to a woman who once worked for the state unemployment agency.”
That would be Andrea M. Gervais, arrested December 17 by federal officers. They also busted Chowchilla inmate Sholanda Thomas for conspiring with former prisoner Christina Smith to file fraudulent unemployment claims. According to ABC, “Smith later used the money for plastic surgery,” not the first time taxpayer dollars have been diverted to such a cause.
As we noted in 2017, convicted murderer Shiloh Heavenly Quine, 57, became the first U.S. inmate to receive state-funded sex-reassignment surgery, at a cost to taxpayers of some $100,000. Quine then gained a transfer to the women’s prison at Chowchilla, soon sporting a beard because prison officials denied a razor to the revamped inmate. Chowchilla was the base of operations for Sholana Thomas, and Christina Smith put saved some of the EDD money in a shoe box, as prosecutors explained, “to give to Thomas once she completed her sentence.”
According to ABC News, the state of California has paid about $400 million in the names of prison inmates. Bank of America estimates the total amount of the EDD scandal at $2 billion.
This article was published by The Beacon