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Springfield Man Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Wire Fraud in Connection with Fraudulent Scheme to Obtain Pandemic Unemployment Benefits

Published: 02-10-2023 | Category: General


United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced that Chaz Ryan Watkins, age 35, of Springfield, Louisiana, pled guilty before U.S. Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick to wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent scheme to obtain pandemic unemployment benefits. As a result of his plea, Watkins faces up to 20 years imprisonment. According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, between December 2019, and continuing through at least September 2021, Watkins obtained the personal identifying information (“PII”) of inmates incarcerated in Louisiana prisons and of other individuals, including names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers. Watkins submitted claims for pandemic unemployment assistance (“PUA”) benefits to the Louisiana Workforce Commission (“LWC”) in the names of the inmates, who were ineligible for such benefits, and in the names of other individuals, often without the individual’s knowledge or consent.

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Louisiana State Inspector General

MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 94095, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9095

PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 602 North 5th Street, Suite 621, Baton Rouge, LA 70802

PHONE NUMBER: (225) 342-4262 | FAX NUMBER: (225) 342-6761

FRAUD AND ABUSE HOTLINE: 866-201-2549

State of Louisiana
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