LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Federal authorities announced charges Thursday afternoon against 10 people accused of stealing unemployment benefits they weren’t entitled to receive. It involves $1.2 million in approved unemployment benefits and 50 prepaid debit cards for those benefits.
The 10 defendants are facing charges including aggravated identity theft, mail fraud, conducting illegal transactions with access devices, stealing and obstructing of mail, according to federal, state and local law enforcement who made the announcement.
The defendants are identified as:
- Antwine Hunter – charged with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft
- Kenneth Greenland – charged with conspiracy to effectuate illegal transactions w/an access device, illegal transactions w/an access device and aggravated identity theft.
- Brittany Griesel – charged with conspiracy to effectuate illegal transactions w/an access device, illegal transactions w/an access device and aggravated identity theft.
- Paul Naegar – charged with conspiracy to effectuate illegal transactions w/an access device, illegal transactions w/an access device and aggravated identity theft.
- Keheir Parker – charged with conspiracy to effectuate illegal transactions w/an access device and aggravated identity theft.
- Robert Barber – charged with conspiracy to effectuate illegal transactions w/an access device and aggravated identity theft.
- Jasmine-Royshell Black – charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, obstruction of mail and aggravated identity theft.
- Dead Delashaun – charged with possession of counterfeit and unauthorized access devices.
- Joseph Holmes – charged with conspiracy to possess counterfeit and unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft.
- Emelio Rochester – charged with conspiracy to possess counterfeit and unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents, the defendants were found in possession of multiple debit cards with other people’s identities. The debit cards were issued by state unemployment agencies in Nevada, California and Arizona.
In one case, the identity of a dead person was used in fraudulently obtaining benefits.
One of the defendants, Jasmine-Royshell Black, a Las Vegas postal carrier, is accused mail fraud and obstruction for allegedly helping Vincent Okoye steal unemployment money by informing him of addresses that could be used as straw addresses to apply for benefits under an assumed identity. Okoye was charged in August.
Some of the defendants were caught during traffic stops made by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police. Those stops led to the discovery of evidence of stolen identities and debit cards issued under the names of others.
In one case, defendants Kenneth Greenland and Brittany Griesel were pulled over by police for a routine traffic stop. Court documents say police found illegal narcotics in the Maserati along with 8 debit cards issued by the California Employment Development Department that had been approved for $255,000. There was also $45,000 in cash and ATM receipts. Police were able to compare both suspect’s booking photos with photos taken while the debit cards were being used. Federal agents said most of the transactions occurred at casinos.
In another case, police said they discovered 15 identification cards and eight unemployment debit cards during a search warrant on defendant Antwine Hunter. The cards were approved for $215,000 in unemployment benefits. According to DETR records, Hunter had 19 claims filed under different identities.
Two other defendants, Joseph Holmes and Emelio Rochester, were pulled over for a routine traffic stop and according to court documents, police found five cell phones, three laptops, a tablet, $90,000 in cash as well as 16 debit cards from the California Employment Development Department that had been approved for $385,000 in benefits.
Seven of the 10 defendants are is custody and will be making their initial court appearances either later Thursday or Friday.
DETR responded to an 8NewsNow request for a comment with this statement:
Like many states, Nevada has been targeted by individuals committing fraud who are applying for benefits in the names of others. Nevada and all the other states have implemented additional security measures to combat this fraud, including taking various steps to verify identity of those applying. Ironically, some of these procedures are delaying benefits for those who truly are in need. DETR is committed to identifying and preventing fraud within its unemployment systems and is working with its vendor partners in combating fraud present in its systems. The state’s primary focus continues to be resolving claims so that all eligible claimants can be paid.Rosa Mendez, DETR Public Information Officer
The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) responds to requests from law enforcement to help in their investigations. While we understand the interest regarding potentially fraudulent claims, we cannot comment or provide any details about claims being investigated for potential fraud or on specific measures and processes used in unemployment insurance. DETR fully supports our law enforcement partners in these investigations and any public statements regarding these matters may jeopardize future investigations or prosecutions.
The Thursday news conference brought together leaders from several agencies that cooperated in the investigation:
- Nicholas Trutanich, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada
- Quentin Heiden, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, Los Angeles Region
- John Masters, Executive Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Western Area Field Office
- Jacob Cinco, Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge U.S. Secret Service, Las Vegas Field Office
- Ray Johnson, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Las Vegas Field Office