A woman arrested for possession of crack cocaine pleaded guilty to COVID-19 relief fraud after police found multiple stolen identification cards in her car.
Danielle Tooley, 37, of Batavia, New York, was questioned by police officers during a traffic stop.
After finding drug paraphernalia in the vehicle, police arrested Tooley and found evidence of the identity fraud in the same car.
“The scheme came to the attention of law enforcement on Nov. 24, 2020, when Tooley was arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance during a vehicle traffic stop on Clinton Street in Bergen, New York,” the Department of Justice stated in a report.
The report continued, “A New York State Police trooper observed a crack pipe with white residue inside Tooley’s vehicle. Tooley admitted at the time that she had crack cocaine in the center console of the vehicle.”
Police recovered six unemployment benefit cards, none of which were issued to Tooley. The cards came to the officials’ attention just before the vehicle was towed.
“As they prepared for Tooley’s vehicle to be towed, troopers recovered six New York State unemployment benefit cards issued to individuals other than Tooley, which they turned over to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General,” the DOJ continued. “Subsequent investigation determined that Tooley consistently withdrew money from bank accounts associated with the benefit cards.”
Tooley pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud on June 8, according to the DOJ.
“Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle P. Rossi, who is handling the case, stated that between July 9 and Dec. 4, 2020, Tooley applied for and collected unemployment benefits to which she was not entitled, benefits that were connected to federal COVID-19 relief programs,” the DOJ said in its report.
The financial cost and security of pandemic relief funds have been debated since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The DOJ has prosecuted relief fraud consistently since payouts began.
Funds were distributed throughout the pandemic via direct payments to citizens from the federal government, rent cancellations, the Paycheck Protection Program, and more.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., slammed Democrats’ over-issue of COVID-19 relief funds going to “trivial priorities”on Wednesday’s “The Ingraham Angle.”
“We said when the Democrats tried to shovel $2 trillion out the door immediately without proper oversight and adequate controls, that it would go to fund these kinds of irrelevant and, frankly, trivial priorities of the Democratic Party, that it wouldn’t go to help coronavirus relief,” Cotton said.