9 more from Yuba City indicted in $5M fraud case
Nine more Yuba City residents were indicted in the sprawling unemployment fraud case that state officials believe has cost taxpayers more than $5 million.
Three of the nine residents indicted were arrested and appeared briefly on Tuesday in US District Court in Sacramento, according to a statement from the US Justice Department.
US Marshals arrested Balkar Singh, 50; Harvinder Kaur, 37; and Harjinder Kaur Thandi, 34, at their homes in Yuba City and they were charged with mail fraud, according to Lauren Horwood, a justice department spokeswoman.
"They were buying the (fraudulent unemployment) stubs, they filed for unemployment insurance," Horwood told the Appeal-Democrat.
Singh, Kaur and Thandi pleaded not guilty and requested jury trials. All three posted $25,000 bail bonds and were released, Horwood said.
They are due back in court March 20.
The remaining defendants, Jit Kaur, 62; Daljit Kaur Sangha, 41; Sukhwinder Kaur, 54; Darshan Rani, 44, all of Yuba City; Avtar Kaur Bains, 73, of Roseville; and Mo Pegany, 56, of Ceres, will appear in court at a later date. All were indicted last week.
A total of 17 Sutter County residents and at least four others now face federal charges in connection with the massive alleged scheme that spanned more than 20 years.
The investigation remains open and additional arrests could be in the works, though officials declined to elaborate.
Six Yuba City residents were indicted in April and six more in August.
According to the 36-count indictment that was unsealed on Tuesday, Jit Kaur, Bains, Sangha, Pegany, Singh, Harvinder Kaur, Thandi, Sukhwinder Kaur, and Rani, used the bogus pay stubs to file for unemployment and disability benefits, or both.
Federal prosecutors believe defendants paid about $250 in cash for every $1,000 they collected in bogus wages.
Prosecutors said the scheme was controlled by Mohammad Nawaz Khan, 56; Mohammad Adnan Khan, 31; Iqila Begum Khan, 31, all of Live Oak, and Mohammad Shahbaz Khan 56, of Yuba City. They were indicted in April.
Authorities said the Khans sold fake pay stubs to residents and used bogus farm businesses to report false wages for the individuals who purchased those pay stubs.
At various times, prosecutors said, the Kahns instructed the buyers on how to use the fabricated pay stubs to falsely claim benefits.
Residents from Sacramento and Modesto were indicted as part of the same scam in August, Justice Department officials said.
Authorities believe more than 400 people were involved in filing more than 2,000 fraudulent claims dating back to 1989.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison, however, authorities said they are not expected to receive the maximum penalty.
Remaining defendants are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 24.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeator on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.