Unemployment Fraud Scheme leads to Arrests

An ongoing investigation has been happening looking into unemployment fraud across multiple states. The overall sum defrauded is an estimated $1 million or more.

An October round of arrests involved four suspects, one from Florida and three from Louisiana. Recently, a second round of arrests took place. The attorney general’s office of the state of Louisiana announced six additional people were being arrested now.

Agents for the Louisiana state bureau of investigation reported that individuals in multiple parishes worked together. Their cumulative conspiracy was an attempt to defraud both the states of California and Louisianan of unemployment insurance related to the pandemic. The state of Louisiana alone distributed more than $400 million in various unemployment funds to individuals who weren’t actually technical eligible to get it.

Investigators report that these suspects collectively filed numerous online claims that were fraudulent. They did so with the Workforce Commission of Louisiana, as well as the Employment Development Department in California.

The Louisiana state bureau of investigation believes that more than 100 false claims wound up being filed through the Employment Development Department of California, with more than $1 million worth of unemployment funds stolen. These same arrestees also face charges of fraudulent claim submissions through the Workforce Commission in the state of Louisiana, netting over $60,000 in cash obtained through fraudulent means.

Six residents of Louisiana were arrested, including:

  • Darrolyn Bell, age 29, from Plaquemine
  • Ashley Johnson, age 32, from Prarieville
  • Lasia Brock, age 20, from Thibodaux
  • Miquel Banks, age 28, from Plaquemine
  • Kendell Fowler, age 42, from Baton Rouge
  • Dynasty Rowe, age 26, from Marinqouin

Each faced various levels of charges, but they included:

  • Illegal transmissions of monetary funds
  • Fraud of government benefits
  • Money laundering
  • Criminal conspiracy

On top of the noted arrests, outstanding warrants are in place for two more suspects of the fraud investigation. Investigators are looking for:

  • Joseph Mitchell, age 24, from Baton Rouge
  • Adrienne Johnson, age 37, from Prairieville

Investigators are hopeful than people knowing where to find either of these individuals will contact their local law enforcement personnel. They can also call the Louisiana state bureau of investigations at 800.256.4506

The two arrests in Louisiana already made were thanks to earlier efforts in the investigation. The work done was a collective effort by the federal department of labor, the state government of Louisiana, and the sheriff’s offices in St. Mary and Livingston parishes.

Cole Morden, age 24, from Denham Springs was arrested and charged with fraud of government benefits. He gathered more than $800 in various unemployment funds while under incarceration at a local jail.

Dana Ganaway, age 51, from Morgan City, was also arrested and charged with fraud of government benefits. She confessed during an interview to falsifying unemployment insurance claims to get more than $7,000 in pandemic benefits.

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