Kern Valley inmate pleads guilty in unemployment insurance fraud scheme

Gavel with Scales of Justice (FILE)
Posted at 2:40 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 17:40:15-05

FRESNO, Calif. (KERO) — A Kern Valley State Prison inmate pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in a $25 million unemployment insurance fraud scheme during the pandemic.

Daryol Richmond, 31, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges.

Richmond obtained people's personal identifying information and then gave the information to his alleged co-conspirators inside and outside of prison through emails and jail calls, according to the plea agreement. Richmond's alleged co-conspirators then filed applications for unemployment insurance with the California Employment Development Department that they became unemployed due to the pandemic.

Richmond said he was responsible for $1.4 million worth of the claims, according to the plea agreement.

Richmond faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge. He also faces a mandatory, additional two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge. He set to be sentenced on Sept. 19th.

Charges are pending against seven other people in the case.