Killer charged with heading $2 million COVID scam from behind bars
A Corona, California woman serving a life sentence for helping murder her mother in 2001 was charged with leading a group that defrauded the state out of millions in unemployment insurance benefits, CBS Los Angeles reports.
The Department of Justice charged 13 defendants, five of whom were arrested, for the scheme to use stolen identities and defraud California, out of $2 million, mostly in pandemic-related unemployment relief, and mostly in the second half of 2020. The indictment charges all defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, which can carry a maximum sentence of 30 years of prison.
According to the indictment, they are alleged to have committed 150 “overt acts” including stealing personal identifying information, some of which was given to them by a prison official working for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The official remains unnamed.
Many of the defendants were charged with 31 counts of bank fraud and seven counts of aggravated identity theft counts.
Each count of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence.
According to the DOJ, Natalie Le Demola, 37, who has been serving a life sentence for the murder of her mother since her conviction in 2005, supposedly led the ring which included her close friend, 32-year-old parolee Neosha Plummer.
According to the indictment, the group used the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of people who were not eligible for unemployment benefits.
The defendants, aside from Demola and Plummer, listed in the indictment are:
- Khanshanda King, 31, of Los Angeles, who is still being sought;
- Cleshay Johnson II, 28, of Los Angeles, who is still being sought;
- James Antonio Johnson, who has several aliases including “Big Dawg Niddy,” 31, of Los Angeles, who is currently in custody in a Los Angeles County jail;
- Felicite Aleisha King, 41, of Los Angeles, who is still being sought;
- Shafequah Lynete Mitchell, 33, of Los Angeles, who is currently traveling outside of California;
- Loresha Shamone Davis, 31, of Moreno Valley, who was arrested today;
- Porsha Latrice Johnson, 32, of Lynwood, who was arrested today;
- Donisha Lashawn Pace, 38, of South Los Angeles, who was arrested today;
- Dominique Charmone Martin, 37, of Yucaipa, who is still being sought;
- Mykara Destiny Robertson, 23, of Los Angeles, who is still being sought; and
- Amber Jane Wade, 34, of Palmdale, who was arrested today.
Authorities arrested six defendants: Plummer, Antonio Johnson, Latrice Johnson, Pace and Wade.