Las Vegas Woman Pleads Guilty in $7.1 Million Wire Fraud Scheme to Defraud Federal Pandemic Programs
ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Las Vegas woman pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
According to court documents, from June 2020 through January 2022, Tequisha Solomon, 39, executed a scheme to fraudulently obtain pandemic assistance money from various states, including Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and California’s Employment Development Department (EDD).
As part of the fraud scheme, Solomon sought Unemployment benefits (UI) from states where she had no lawful basis to receive them. For example, while Solomon resided in Minnesota and Nevada, she falsely claimed to California’s EDD that she worked and resided in Los Angeles, California. As a result, California’s EDD paid Solomon at least $37,000 in periodic UI payments between approximately in 2020 and 2021, during which time she actually resided in Minnesota or Nevada.
Solomon also unlawfully sought to obtain UI benefits from multiple states simultaneously. For instance, in October 2020, Solomon fraudulently claimed UI benefits from the Illinois Department of Employment Security when she was actually residing in Minnesota and was already fraudulently receiving UI benefits from California’s EDD. In March 2021, Solomon fraudulently applied for UI from Minnesota’s DEED, and concealed her fraudulent receipt of UI benefits from California and Illinois.
In addition to fraudulently obtaining pandemic-related benefits for herself, Solomon also assisted others to obtain pandemic-related funds in exchange for a fee, as much as $2,000. Solomon submitted over 200 false and fraudulent applications for UI benefits on behalf of others.
In total, Solomon fraudulently applied for $7,149,032 in pandemic-related funds and caused the United States and multiple state agencies to pay out at least $4,708,191 in the form of fraudulent UI benefits and small business loan proceeds.
Solomon pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court before Judge Eric C. Tostrud. A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled yet.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the St. Paul Police Department and the California Employment Development Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew S. Ebert is prosecuting the case.