Convicted murderer Scott Peterson is among thousands of California prison inmates who have received COVID-19 relief funds in a massive federal aid scam.
In what is being reported as “the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history,” more than $140 million in unemployment benefits were sent to over 35,000 inmates in California’s 38 prisons.
Peterson’s unemployment claim was uncovered during a fraud probe by state and federal prosecutors that revealed 158 claims were filed on behalf of 133 death row inmates.
It is unclear if Peterson submitted the claim directly, or was a victim of identity theft. Prosecutors declined to comment on how much money was associated with the convicted murder’s claim.
Several infamous murderers also had claims filed in their names, including Susan Eubanks, who was convicted of killing her four children, and Cary Stayner who slayed four at Yosemite National Park.
Peterson has been imprisoned on death row since he was sentenced in 2005 for the murder of his pregnant wife Laci and unborn son Connor, whose gruesome deaths garnered national attention after their bodies were found months later in San Francisco Bay.
In August, Peterson’s death sentence was overturned, but he remains on death row at San Quentin State Prison while prosecutors retry the penalty portion of his case and determine a new sentence.
Prosecutors were alerted to the pandemic fraud when loose-lipped inmates were caught boasting about how they were scamming the system on the inside, as California does not cross-check unemployment claims against prison records.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said, “Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us.”
Governor Gavin Newsom formed a task force to crack down on the problem as of Tuesday. “Unemployment fraud across local jails and state and federal prisons is absolutely unacceptable,” he stated.