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September 7, 2012

Ex-California Employee Sentenced to Over Six Years in Prison for Taking Bribes to Issue More Than $500,000 in Unemployment Checks

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:16 pm

SANTA ANA, California – A former employee at California’s employment agency was sentenced today to 76 months in federal prison for taking more than $40,000 in kickbacks in exchange for causing his agency to issue over a half-million dollars in unemployment insurance checks to people who were not eligible.

David Paul Holden, 31, of Corona, who at the time of the offense worked at the Anaheim office of the California Employment Development Department (EDD), was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge David O. Carter. In addition to the prison term, Judge Carter ordered the defendant to pay $510,454 in restitution to the EDD.

Holden pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery in May, admitting that he was personally responsible for obtaining more than $500,000 in unemployment benefits for more than 50 ineligible persons. Holden collected more than $40,000 in cash kickbacks from the ineligible workers he had contacted through a network of recruiters.

“Corrupt public officials such as Mr. Holden undermine confidence in taxpayer-funded programs, especially those designed to help people in need,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This sentence sends a message that neither the Department of Justice nor the community will tolerate the abuse of our public institutions.”

According to court documents, Holden worked at the EDD office in Anaheim, where he processed unemployment insurance claims and had access to EDD’s electronic database for approving claims and making payments of both state and federal unemployment benefits. Through personal contacts and a network of recruiters, Holden contacted more than 50 individuals and persuaded them to provide their social security numbers and other information so that Holden could arrange for them to receive unemployment checks. These people were not qualified to receive unemployment benefits because, for example, they were already employed, had voluntarily quit their jobs or had been terminated for misconduct. Holden then manipulated EDD’s electronic database to make it appear that these people were entitled to benefits and caused EDD to issue checks to those persons. In return for the unemployment benefits, the recipients each gave the recruiters cash payments of up to $5,000, and much of that money was passed on to Holden.

“Today’s sentencing highlights the Office of Inspector General’s efforts to investigate fraud against the Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Program. The defendants in this case participated in a complex scheme to defraud a program that serves as a lifeline for millions of unemployed workers. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to safeguard this and other Department of Labor programs,” said Abel Salinas, Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.

Six of the recruiters used by Holden also have pleaded guilty in the scheme. They are: Narciso Rodriguez, 29, of Riverside; Patricia Cordova, 31, of Anaheim; Ulysses Hernandez, 25, of Fontana; Zaharid Hernandez, 26, of Bloomington; Cristobal Salgado, 26, of Moreno Valley; and Melissa Salgado, 25, of Moreno Valley. Judge Carter previously sentenced Rodriguez to 18 months in custody, and the remaining defendants are scheduled to be sentenced this fall.

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