A federal court sentenced a Pennsylvania man for conspiring to fraudulently obtain pandemic-related welfare benefits while he was incarcerated under state conviction.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced the sentencing Wednesday.
Twenty-five-year-old Levi Stroud, a Burgettstown resident, pleaded guilty to one count of “conspiracy to commit mail fraud,” a Wednesday press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania stated. (RELATED: New York Man Arrested For Stealing More Than $12,000 In Coronavirus Stimulus Checks From Mailboxes)
The defendant had allegedly conspired with his mother to unlawfully obtain “pandemic unemployment assistance benefits,” the press release stated.
United States District Judge William S. Stickman sentenced Stroud to seven months imprisonment and one year of supervised release at the end of his prison term after hearing his guilty plea. The investigation that eventually led to Stroud’s prosecution was conducted by the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
After declaring COVID-19 to be a national emergency, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020. The Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs to assist people in making it through the pandemic financially.
Accounting and fraud-related issues have negatively affected the efficient distribution of CARES-Act-related benefits, a 2020 New York Times report suggested. The amount of suspected fraudulent cases had reached such an extent that the Labor Department decided to provide states “$100 million in administrative funding targeted specifically at addressing fraud and identity theft in the PUA and PEUC programs” that year.