By COLE LAUTERBACH
THE CENTER SQUARE REGIONAL EDITOR
(The Center Square) — A Las Vegas woman has pleaded guilty to defrauding the California unemployment system of more than $175,000 in unemployment benefits by using dozens of stolen identities.
Danielle Lacharis Buck, also known as Danielle Lacharis Lakey, copped to one count of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Nevada. She faces up to 22 years in prison.
Ms. Buck, 46, admittedly stole $175,622 in unemployment insurance benefits from the California Employment Development Department from September 2010 to April 2019.
Ms. Buck leveraged her job in the medical industry to steal private information, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“She used her access to patient and co-worker information to steal personal identifying information – such as names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of unsuspecting individuals – and then electronically filed false unemployment claims using the stolen names and information,” an Oct. 26 news release said.
Ms. Buck filed more than 50 false unemployment insurance claims using at least 40 different identities she had stolen. The office said Ms. Buck took the benefits in cash from ATMs using debit cards in Los Vegas and Los Angeles.
The indictment was unsealed June 6. She initially faced 13 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, unauthorized access of a device and aggravated identity theft.
U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson scheduled Buck’s sentencing for Jan. 25.
California EDD officials confirmed last week that the state had given out an estimated $20 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits, representing 11% of the total jobless dollars given out since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.