Louisiana residents took $1M in COVID funds from California

Ten Louisiana residents are accused in scams that defrauded pandemic unemployment programs in California and Louisiana out of more than $1 million, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said.

Louisiana Bureau of Investigation agents learned that multiple groups operating across several Louisiana parishes conspired to defraud the two COVID-19 unemployment insurance programs, according to a news release sent Tuesday.

More than 100 false claims to California’s Employment Development Department netted $1 million for eight people, and five of them also got more than $60,000 that they weren’t due from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the attorney general’s office said. Six have been arrested and two are being sought.

The statement did not say how much each arrested person is accused of taking from each state or in total.

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It said two other people were arrested in separate investigations.

A 24-year-old Denham Springs man is accused of collecting more than $800 in unemployment while in the Livingston Parish jail. And a 51-year-old Morgan City woman is accused of getting $8,000 in unemployment benefits even though she was working.

Louisiana’s Legislative Auditor’s Office reported in April that the state labor department paid $405 million in state and federal pandemic unemployment claims to people who were working.

That office reported in June that $1 million was sent to dead people, though nearly $630,000 of that couldn’t have been stopped because the benefits were paid before the state received a death report or death certificate.

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