LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – Eight people were arrested in Southern California Tuesday for allegedly creating fake businesses to claim more than $1.1 million in unemployment benefits, officials said.
The nine-count indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges a three-year conspiracy to cheat the California unemployment insurance program through the creation of fraudulent cleaning services and boutique stores, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
The indictment charges each of the eight defendants, at least six of whom are related, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The defendants are:
- Donna Givens, 58, of the Gramercy Park area of Los Angeles
- Catrina Gipson, 44, of Moreno Valley, who is Givens’ niece
- Evelyn Taylor, 36, of Gramercy Park, a daughter of Givens
- Laron Taylor, 34, of Buena Park, a son of Givens
- Latrice Taylor, 37, of Buena Park, a daughter of Givens
- Raschell Taylor, 30, of San Bernardino, a daughter of Givens
- Bianka Logie, 45, of Moreno Valley
- Vernisha Jolivet, 27, of Indianapolis
Seven of them were expected to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon. Jolivet, who was arrested in Indianapolis, was expected to appear in court in Indiana on Wednesday.
From February 2013 to July 2016, the eight allegedly registered fake businesses, including Latasha’s Devining Cleaning Service, Charm Boutique and Infinite Cleaning Service, with the California Employment Development Department, the state’s administrator for federal unemployment insurance benefits.
Logie, Jolivet and Evelyn Taylor filed claims for unemployment insurance, claiming unemployment from the businesses created by their co-conspirators, according the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Givens and her children, Laron Taylor and Raschell Taylor, allegedly opened and maintained post office boxes to receive mail for the fake businesses.
After being issued California EDD-funded debit cards, the defendants allegedly withdrew funds from cards in the names of others. They also used the names of prison inmates as phony employees to collect the unemployment insurance claims benefits, officials said.
In total, they fraudulently gained approximately $1,106,282 in unemployment insurance benefits, according to the indictment.
If convicted on all charges, each of the eight people face a maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison, officials said.