Crime - Sacto 911

Manteca woman gets 2½ years for stealing unemployment benefits, identity theft

Police charged Paul Guadalupe Gonzales 10 felonies after they say he ate expensive meals and then skimped out on the bill on dates with more than a dozen women. He pleaded not guilty.
Police charged Paul Guadalupe Gonzales 10 felonies after they say he ate expensive meals and then skimped out on the bill on dates with more than a dozen women. He pleaded not guilty. Sacramento Bee file

A Manteca woman was sentenced Thursday to 2 1/2 years in prison for her role in a scheme to defraud the state by filing false unemployment insurance claims, according to a press release by the Department of Justice.

According to court documents, Brittany Maunakea, 29, began defrauding the state in 2015. She, along with five co-conspirators, stole the identities of over 250 California workers and used their names to file false unemployment insurance claims with the California Employment Development Department. Maunakea would receive EDD documents at her house and use the debit cards issued to the people victimized by her identity theft to withdraw benefits. In total, she and five other defendants filed at least 269 false insurance claims and collected over $2.5 million in benefits.

In addition to prison time, Maunakea was ordered to pay $139,071 in restitution.

Maunakea’s sentencing comes after an investigation into the unemployment insurance claim scheme by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the California Employment Development Department, Investigations Division.

One of the other five people accused of participating in the scheme, Sergio Reyna, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and will be sentenced September 6.

Cases against co-defendants Pamela Emanuel, Gregory Lee and Russell White III are still pending.

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