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Press Release

Mother and Daughter Team Plead Guilty in COVID-19 Related Jailhouse Unemployment Insurance Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — Makiah Miles, 30, of Compton, and Apryl Weston, 51, of Santa Maria, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit mail fraud for submitting fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) in the names of inmates, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Miles was an inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, and Weston is her mother. From June through December 2020, Miles obtained other inmates’ names, dates of birth, and social security numbers and sent that information to Weston to submit claims in those inmates’ identities, as well as Miles’ own identity. The underlying applications misrepresented that Miles and the other inmates worked as childcare providers, cosmetologists, hairdressers, and other occupations, that they last worked within the prior few months and recently became unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that they were currently available to work. The fraudulent claims were worth nearly $250,000.

This case is the product of an investigation by FBI, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Investigative Services Unit, and the EDD. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Barton is prosecuting the case.

This case is part of the California COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Force, which is one of the interagency COVID-19 fraud strike forces established by the United States Department of Justice. The California Strike Force combines law enforcement and prosecutorial resources in the Eastern and Central Districts of California, and focuses on large-scale, multistate, and egregious pandemic relief fraud. The strike force uses prosecutor-led, and data analyst-driven, teams to identify and bring to justice those who stole pandemic relief money.

Miles and Weston are scheduled to be sentenced on April 22, 2024. They face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated January 16, 2024

Financial Fraud