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O.C. tax preparer gets 6 years in prison for COVID-19 unemployment insurance scam involving prisoners

SANTA ANA — An Anaheim tax preparer was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for her part in an unemployment insurance scam during the COVID- 19 pandemic involving four state prisoners.

Sandra Pineda, 37, pleaded guilty March 15 to 72 felony counts that include perjury, false statements, conspiracy and money laundering. She also admitted sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime exceeding $500,000.

Pineda filed bogus unemployment claims for Leonel Hernandez, 35, who has been in Kern Valley state prison since February 2010 for murder, prosecutors said.She also helped to file bogus unemployment claims for prisoners Greg Garcia, 31, Ryan Vargas, 38, and Hector Jimenez, 33.

Pineda used personal identifying information to file false unemployment claims and then used debit cards to withdraw money, according to prosecutors.

Source: Orange County Register

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