Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced the sentencing of two individuals this month involved in a scheme for defrauding the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When COVID-19 shut down businesses and sent people home without paychecks,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch, “Mississippians relied upon MDES to be able to get them the enhanced unemployment benefits quickly. That money was a lifeline for so many families, and fraud like this made it that much harder for people truly in need of this assistance. I want to thank the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), MDES, and U.S. Department of Labor for their partnership with my office in the investigation that led to this just outcome for all the Mississippi taxpayers.”
The scheme prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office Public Integrity Division involved one defendant, Lawrence Scott Riley, filing fraudulent unemployment benefit applications for two individuals in MDOC custody, including Hanh Huynh. Judge Christopher Schmidt of Hancock County Circuit Court, sentenced Riley to a maximum of 23 years in the custody of the MDOC, with 10 years to be served in MDOC’s Intensive Supervision Program. Riley was also ordered to make full restitution in the amount of $124,442.00 to MDES. Judge Schmidt also sentenced Huynh to 5 years in the custody of MDOC.
A trial before Hancock County Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson involving the other individual involved in the scheme, William “Tally” Vaughn, is scheduled for August 2022. That case is also being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office Public Integrity Division.