Family charged in unemployment scheme using VADOC inmate information

SUFFOLK, Va. — A father, mother and daughter are all facing mail fraud charges after federal prosecutors alleged they fraudulently obtained $382,302 in unemployment benefits using information from 27 inmates.

Bubble Jones was being held at Nottoway Correctional Center in Burkeville, Virginia.

Court documents reveal that prosecutors allege Bubble Jones is Kanaejah Parker’s father. He is also married to Tamara Jones who is Kanaejah’s mother.

He is accused of recruiting other inmates at Nottoway to provide their personal information such as birth dates and social security numbers.

Kanaejah Parker is accused of taking the information and filing unemployment benefits with the Virginia Employment Commission.

Records indicate that from time to time, Kanaejah would provide the information to his mother, Tamara Parker, who would allegedly file the claim.

They claim the program ran for six months in 2020.

Authorities claim that VADOC detainees were not entitled to such benefits.

Court documents indicate that around June 2020, the VEC began reviewing applications for unemployment benefits to identify potentially fraudulent claims.

He says that in August 2020, VEC officials had learned from other states that inmates of correctional facilities were receiving benefits, but he says those incarcerated are not available for employment and they are not either more able to seek full-time employment.

It indicates that these people are unemployed due to their own criminal conduct and not due to the COVID-19 pandemic and for these reasons they are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Authorities continued to investigate and said the VEC obtained a list of inmates housed by the Virginia Department of Corrections and matched the list with unemployment claims.

In November 2020, the VEC froze claims made using the personally identifiable information of detainees known to VADOC, according to the filing.

During the investigation, prosecutors allege the mother and daughter would file updated claims each week in order to continue collecting unemployment benefits.

Jones is accused of allegedly telling inmates they would receive some of the money that came in, but he says family members would keep the majority of the more than $382,000 in proceeds.

Prosecutors allege much of the money came in the form of a preloaded Way2Go debit card that was sent to a relative’s home in Suffolk.

He says the girl used stolen government money to buy a 2017 Mercedes Benz C300 and to pay for cosmetic surgery.

The mother allegedly used the funds to buy a Chevrolet Tahoe and pay the family members’ criminal defense legal fees.

Part of the money was allegedly paid into the father’s prison account.

Records indicate that in total, the daughter and mother would have filed approximately 27 successful claims using the personal information of Nottoway inmates.

Prosecutors allege the girl filed the vast majority of the claims.

As a result of the conspiracy, VEC allegedly paid approximately $382,302 in unemployment benefits on behalf of VADOC inmates who were not entitled to such benefits.

Records indicate that once VEC realized the claims involved VADOC detainees, VEC was able to recover approximately $96,925, resulting in an actual loss of approximately $285,376.95 for VEC.

A few weeks ago, News 3 investigators told you about the multimillion-dollar jobless scam being investigated in Virginia prisons that may have led to the governor’s denial Ralph Northam of some promising pardon requests.

In the recent case, he says Jones allegedly told the inmates involved they would receive part of the claim in exchange for providing their personal information.

A News 3 investigation found that in other cases, inmates claimed to have had their personal information stolen, impacting their potential pardon for Governor Ralph Northam before he left his functions.

“I had nothing to do with it,” said Khali Pyatt, a Hampton man who claims he was wrongfully convicted of murder in 2001. “I feel like anyone [used my social security number to get unemployment funds]they must be prosecuted because it may interfere with my freedom.

According to federal court documents, the Virginia Employment Commission paid more than $40 million to people who filed claims on behalf of ineligible inmates.

Pyatt and other inmates whose pardons were denied in November 2021 due to ‘new information uncovered during the investigative process’ of their applications fear their names were reported because their Social Security numbers were used to apply for COVID-19 relief unemployment claims without their knowledge.

“You have people’s lives at stake,” Pyatt said from prison in an interview with investigator Jessica Larché. “It’s people like me who really deserve a second chance.”

News 3 has contacted attorneys for all three defendants in the recent case.

Attorney Andrew Sacks is representing the girl in this case who said his client is a young woman with no criminal record who deserves special consideration in this case.

Jones, his wife and daughter are all facing mail fraud charges.

The father and daughter also face aggravated identity theft charges.

Another hearing will take place on February 3 at the Norfolk Federal Courthouse.