JSU football player arrested on COVID-19 relief fraud

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A Jackson State University football player has been arrested on federal charges for allegedly orchestrating COVID-related unemployment benefits fraud while at University of Southern California in 2020.

 According to the indictment, Abdul-Malik McClain, 22, organized and assisted a group of other football players in filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits.

They allegedly filed applications in their own names, in the names of other friends and associates, and in the names of identity theft victims. These claims also stated that they were self-employed workers, including athletic trainers and tutors, who had lost work in California as a result of the pandemic.

The fraudulent applications accumulated at least $903,688 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits and led the California Employment Development Department (EDD) to pay out at least $227,736.

McClain has been charged with 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was ordered released on a $20,000 bond.

He is set to stand trial on February 15. Each mail fraud count carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and aggravated identity theft counts carry a two-year mandatory prison sentence.

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