Sacramento, California - Andrea M. Gervais, 44, of Roseville, pleaded guilty Monday to theft of government money in a scheme involving 97 fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims in the names of persons other than her own, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, at least 10 of 97 fraudulent PUA claims were processed for payment, and nearly $200,000 in unemployment insurance and PUA benefits were paid out to Gervais’s Roseville address in the form of Bank of America debit cards. The potential value of all fraudulent 97 claims associated with the scheme exceeded $2 million.
The investigation began when federal agents discovered that someone had filed a PUA claim using the identity of a sitting U.S. senator for approximately $21,000. This fraudulent claim was processed for payment, and Gervais received an EDD debit card in the senator’s name. Agents further discovered that Bank of America ATM cameras captured Gervais on multiple occasions withdrawing cash from at least seven of the EDD debit cards, and at least one captured transaction showed Gervais using the debit card issued to the senator.
“Gervais defrauded California’s unemployment system by fraudulently collecting nearly $200,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Her conduct further exacerbated the distribution of unemployment benefits at a time when so many Americans are in desperate need of this assistance. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of DOL programs,” said Quentin Heiden, Special Agent-in-Charge, Los Angeles Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the California Employment Development Department – Investigation Division. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Artuz is prosecuting the case.
Gervais remains on pretrial release as she awaits sentencing. She is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on Aug. 9. Gervais faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.