California EDD scam: Convicted killers among thousands of inmates obtained unemployment benefits

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California EDD building
Credits: California EDD via Flickr

Convicted killers such as Scott Peterson was among the thousands of inmates who have received unemployment benefits in recent months. They are part of the massive California EDD scam, according to state prosecutors.

This is reportedly the “most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history,” a group of state and local prosecutors said in a letter obtained by The Los Angeles Times.

More than $400,000 in state benefits were allegedly paid to death-row inmates including Peterson, who was convicted for the 2002 murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn child.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said the state has paid out over $140 million in benefit to 20,000 claims filed in the names of inmates. She added that at least 158 claims have been filed for 133 inmates on death row.

“These criminals, these murderers, these rapists. It encompasses death row inmates, inmates serving life or life without the possibility of parole, individuals not entitled to these benefits that are so desperately needed,” Schubert said.

Schubert said there were instances where benefits were paid directly to inmates inside the facilities. In other cases, the cash was sent to relatives and friends outside prison bars.

In other cases, the benefits included bogus Social Security numbers and recipient names including John Doe and John Adams, according to Schubert.

“Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us,” she said.

Prosecutors have yet to identify the full amount of money associated with Peterson’s unemployment claim, saying the probe is still ongoing.

California EDD claims filed in the names of notorious murderers

She said claims were also filed in the names of multiple notorious convicted murderers, including Cary Stayner, who was convicted of killing four people in Yosemite National Park in 1999. Also included in the list was Susan Eubanks, a San Diego woman convicted of killing her four sons in 1997.

In August, Peterson’s capital sentence was overturned after the California Supreme Court ruled that there had been “significant errors” during jury selection in his trial. Prosecutors have asserted that they will again seek the death penalty in the case.

California State Senator Melissa Melendez immediately took to Twitter to express her disappointment in the incident.

In August, California law enforcement authorities cracked down a large-scale unemployment fraud ring involving 21 people who stole more than $250,000 by submitting fake claims to the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD).

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