Virginia inmate pleads guilty to pandemic benefits scheme

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a Virginia prison inmate has pleaded guilty to his part in a scheme to get pandemic-related jobless benefits by using personal identifying information of over 30 other inmates.

Acting Virginia U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh says that according to court documents, Michael Lee Lewis Jr. of Chesapeake worked with two women to collect identifiable information of other inmates to fraudulently apply for Virginia unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together, the three submitted successful applications for Virginia unemployment benefits for 35 inmates. The inmates shared in the proceeds, which totaled more than $330,000.

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