LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A South Los Angeles woman pleaded guilty Monday to her role in a scheme that used the stolen identities of California prison inmates and others to fraudulently obtain at least $993,181 in state unemployment insurance benefits.
Mykara Destiny Robinson, 24, is the 13th and final defendant to plead guilty in the scheme led by a woman serving a life sentence for murder, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Robinson pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to one count of bank fraud.
The lead defendants in the case are Natalie Le Demola, 38, originally of Corona and who currently is serving a life prison sentence after she was convicted in 2005 of first-degree murder, and Carleisha Plummer, 33, of Los Angeles, a close prison associate of Demola's until her parole in July 2020.
Demola, Plummer, and other co-conspirators would acquire the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, of people who were not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, including pandemic benefits, because they were employed, retired, or incarcerated, according to a 39-count indictment returned in May 2022.
Members of the conspiracy then used the information to make fraudulent online applications for benefits from the California Employment Development Department. Once the applications were approved, EDD-funded debit cards were issued that allowed the withdrawal of money from ATMs across Southern California.
According to Robinson's plea agreement, the conspiracy began in June 2020. Robinson and her co-defendants assumed the identities of California prison inmates and used EDD debit cards issued in their names to make fraudulent cash withdrawals of benefits from Bank of America ATMs in Los Angeles County.
During the scheme, Robinson and others withdrew at least $993,181 in EDD funds from about 151 fraudulent accounts, according to federal prosecutors
U.S. District Judge John Walter scheduled a July 3 sentencing hearing for Robinson, at which time she will face a potential sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison, prosecutors noted.
Demola pleaded guilty last month in downtown Los Angeles to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, three counts of bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. She faces up to 30 years on the conspiracy and bank fraud counts, and a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence for the aggravated identity theft count, at her July 10 sentencing hearing.
Plummer pleaded guilty on April 17 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. She faces up to 32 years in federal prison at her July 14 sentencing hearing.
The other defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, bank fraud, and/or aggravated identity theft based on their respective roles within the scheme. Most defendants will face a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.