By Ryan Steal – (Source: yourblackworld.net) – After pleading guilty to federal counts of identity theft and COVID-19 relief fraud, former NFL wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins could face up to 12 years in jail.
The South Florida native began his pro football career as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots in 2013, but is best remembered for his stint with the team during the 2013-2014 season.
According to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, Thompkins pleaded guilty this week to “stealing other people’s identities to unlawfully acquire COVID-19 associated unemployment insurance benefits.”
The statement further says that “Thompkins admitted that from August 16, 2020 through September 25, 2020, he used the social security numbers and other protected personal information of unsuspecting Florida residents to obtain prepaid unemployment insurance debit cards from California and to withdraw thousands of dollars from such cards.”
The Associated Press noted that the plan included roughly $300,000 in money, with Thompkins purportedly pocketing about $230,000. He admitted to one count each of unauthorized access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Thompkins will be sentenced in Miami on January 6, 2022. He might be sentenced to a jail term of up to 12 years.
In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to minimize COVID-19’s severe economic effects. The benefits include 39 weeks of financial assistance for persons who were unemployed or unable to work due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, many people have committed fraud to get millions of dollars in relief help since the relief package was passed, and several have been apprehended and charged.
Former Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy was accused and arrested in 2020 for allegedly collecting $1.2 million in a COVID-19 relief fraud scam.
Thompkins’ case comes a year after Bellamy was charged and apprehended. The US Department of Justice claims that the 31-year-old diverted funds intended for coronavirus relief to his personal use. According to the complaint, he was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.
An indictment stated that 18 former NBA players had been charged with scamming the league’s health and welfare benefit plan out of nearly $4 million. Ex-players participated in a widespread scam to cheat the plan by filing false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement of medical and dental expenditures that were never incurred.