RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A woman from Glen Allen pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Friday after working to obtain unemployment benefits for over 20 inmates.
During the scheme, 37-year-old Virginia Smith managed to secure pandemic-related benefits for 22 prison inmates.
According to the Department of Justice, Smith and an inmate at Baskerville Correctional Center conspired to gather identification information from inmates and create unemployment applications for them during the pandemic. At least 22 applications were successful.
Smith used the inmates names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to apply for the benefits. If they were approved, she shared the money with the inmates and kept part for herself.
The approved applications included false information such as incorrect addresses, false previous employers and an untrue statement that the inmates could work again if employment became available.
Smith and the inmates amassed $223,984.72 in fraudulent benefits.
“These critical unemployment funds were intended for deserving members of our communities to help alleviate their economic hardship during the pandemic,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This prosecution and the defendant’s guilty plea send a clear message that EDVA will bring to justice those who unlawfully exploit taxpayer-funded assistance for personal gain.”
She is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 9, the maximum federal sentencing for her crimes would be 30 years.