Former USC Linebacker Pleads Guilty in Pandemic Unemployment Fraud Case

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USC Pandemic Unemployment case

A former University of Southern California football player pled guilty to fraudulently seeking over $1 million in pandemic-era unemployment benefits in the USC Pandemic Unemployment case.

USC Pandemic Unemployment case : Guilty Plea and Charges

Abdul-Malik McClain, a former USC linebacker, pled guilty to one count of mail fraud Monday in Los Angeles federal court. McClain was initially charged in 2021 with 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. This development marks a significant turn in the USC Pandemic Unemployment case, highlighting the misuse of unemployment benefits during a public health crisis.

“Instead of using his time at a major university to advance his athletic and academic life, this defendant took advantage of a public health emergency to fraudulently obtain government benefits,” Central District of California U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement.

McClain’s counsel, who is due to be sentenced on Sept. 16, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Fraudulent Claims and Scheme Details

Prosecutors allege that McClain fraudulently filed for unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, created by Congress in response to mass unemployment early in the COVID-19 pandemic. The USC Pandemic Unemployment case revealed that McClain helped other players submit similar fraudulent claims using false information about prior jobs and job-seeking efforts.