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Press Release

Inmate Serving Lengthy Sentence for Third Degree Murder Gets Additional Time for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, PA- A former resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in connection with a conspiracy to commit mail fraud, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

Gary Clanton, age 41, had pled guilty to one count of Conspiracy before Judge Nora Barry Fischer on May 12, 2021.

In connection with the sentencing, the court was advised that in order to combat the devastating impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the United States, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed into law. The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program, which provided unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended unemployment benefits. Individuals are eligible for PUA if they were unemployed due to the pandemic and could accept a job if one were offered.

At the time of the conspiracy, Clanton was serving a 20-to-40 year sentence for third degree murder, to be followed by a 5-to-10 year sentence for conspiracy to commit murder, at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Fayette. During his incarceration, the defendant conspired to commit mail fraud in order to obtain PUA benefits. Due to his incarceration, the defendant was unemployed and unemployable for reasons unrelated to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the defendant’s jail call recordings prove that he directed another to falsify material facts in a PUA application filed in the defendant’s name. The total amount paid on the claim was $12,870.00, which the United States Postal Service transported in the mail. Following the application’s filing, Clanton informed someone during a recorded jail call, “I’m in jail already, so for me, it don’t matter . . . I got my own account, I got my own so it’s not like, so in my situation I’m in prison already, so what ya’ll gonna do to me?”

On July 29, 2021, Judge Fischer sentenced Clanton to 10 months imprisonment to be served consecutive to his undischarged state sentences, a $100 special assessment, and restitution in the amount of $12,870.00.

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan J. McKenna prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Secret Service and United States Department of Labor conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Gary Clanton.

Updated July 30, 2021