Woman collected $145,000 in jobless benefits using names of death row inmates Scott Peterson, Cary Stayner
A Sacramento woman has been charged with multiple counts of felony grand theft and forgery after she allegedly collected more than $145,000 in unemployment benefits using the identities of convicted killers Scott Peterson and Cary Stayner, the state attorney general’s office announced Wednesday.
“Don’t let the infamous names distract you from who this crime really hurt — the most vulnerable in our society,” California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said in a statement. “EDD theft hurts families in need, parents left without jobs during a pandemic, and Californians struggling to get by. That’s why I’m thankful for my agents, and for our partners in the EDD and CDCR, for their work together on this case.”
Cynthia Ann Hernandez, 32, was arrested Wednesday on a seven-count federal grand jury indictment that alleges she filed at least 29 fraudulent applications for pandemic-related unemployment insurance benefits.
Prosecutors said Iglesias worked for a private company that contracted with San Quentin State Prison, and it may explain how she was able to obtain access to prisoners’ personal information. According to the criminal complaint, Iglesias is charged with using Peterson’s identity to collect $18,562 in unemployment benefits in June 2020, and she later filed for additional benefits using Stayner’s identity, collecting $20,194.
Death row inmates Stayner and Peterson are serving life sentences in San Quentin. Stayner, a convicted serial killer, was sentenced to the death penalty in 2002 for the kidnap and murder of four women at Yosemite National Park in 1999. Peterson is facing the death penalty for the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci, and unborn son, Connor, in 2004.
Iglesias was arrested Saturday in Contra Costa County and was arraigned in Sacramento County Superior Court on Wednesday. She did not enter a plea and was ordered to be held on $20,000 bail pending an Oct. 26 court date.
Most of the money will be turned over to the U.S. government because the claims went through a federal pandemic assistance program, state officials said.
California has one of the largest public benefits systems in the country, and the COVID-19 pandemic led to an even greater influx of unemployment benefit applications across the state after businesses were forced to shut their doors after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the country’s first statewide stay-at-home order in March 2020.
Since then, more than $180 billion in benefits have been paid out, according to the state’s Employment Development Department website, with at least $20 billion going to scammers who posed as prison inmates.
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