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Kern County DA talks about massive prison fraud case

Posted at 8:09 AM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 23:41:03-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Of the 35,000 statewide unemployment claims that have been filed, around 20,000 were paid out and the state has paid out at least $140 million in benefits. At least 158 claims have been filed for 133 inmates on death row.

District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer joined 23ABC this morning to discuss the statewide fraud investigation involving $148 million paid out to inmates by the EDD.

In Kern County, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said over 4,000 fraudulent applications were filed from correctional facilities in the county. Of those, 2,500 of those claims were paid out totaling about $16 million.

"In my nearly four decades as a prosecutor in this state, I have never seen fraud of this magnitude," said Zimmer.

Kern County Deputy District Attorney Joe Kinzel said,"We're looking at the biggest level of fraud California has ever seen."

District Attorneys have now sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking for his involvement and to escalate resources to help investigate and prosecute the fraud.