CA woman sentenced after using killer Scott Peterson’s name in benefits scam – WGMD
A California woman has been accused of using the names of convicted murderers, including Scott Peterson, to collect more than $145,000 in fraudulent unemployment benefits – a small but headline-grabbing over $20 billion stolen in similar scams during the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Brandy Iglesias first appeared in court Wednesday on 10 counts, including robbery, forgery, identity theft and misrepresentation, the California attorney general’s office said.
Iglesias did not plead guilty. She was posted on $20,000 bond pending an Oct. 26 court date.
An email seeking comment from his attorney, Ariana Alejandre, was not immediately returned.
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One of the counts was of using Peterson’s name to claim $18,562 from the state’s Department of Employment Development in June 2020. Peterson was found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife and of her unborn child and dumping their bodies in the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. But a judge is deciding whether Peterson should face a new trial due to juror misconduct.
Iglesias is also accused of filing for unemployment on behalf of Cary Stayner in 2020, collecting $20,194. Stayner confessed to killing three women who were visiting Yosemite National Park in 1999.
Peterson and Stayner were among many inmates who filed complaints on their behalf, prosecutors said in 2020.
Iglesias was employed by a private company under contract with San Quentin State Prison, where Peterson and Stayner are housed, and may have used her job to gain access to prisoners’ personal information, prosecutors said.
Iglesias allegedly received the fraudulent benefits from April 2020 to September 2021.
She was arrested Saturday in Contra Costa County by a team of agents from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“Don’t let the infamous names distract you from who this crime truly hurt – the most vulnerable in our society,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said as he announced the charges.
Such thefts also harm “families in need, parents out of work during a pandemic, and Californians struggling to get by,” he said.
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Iglesias also applied for unemployment benefits under his own name, Bonta said.
She had a previous robbery conviction in Contra Costa County in 2005, her office said.
California has one of the largest public benefit systems in the country. More than 20 million people have filed more than 60 million claims for unemployment, disability insurance and paid family leave over the past decade.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – when many people could not continue working due to business closures, she was sending over 600,000 application documents per day.
California’s Department of Employment Development said the state stopped $120 billion in fraud attempts in 2020 and 2021, but failed to stop $20 billion in fraud.
This included $810 million paid on behalf of approximately 45,000 inmates who were ineligible.