By Denny Walsh
Five individuals from Sutter County were arrested Tuesday in connection with a false-employment scam that has drained millions of dollars out of government coffers via sham unemployment and disability claims.
The five, along with another Sutter County resident not yet arrested, are charged in a criminal complaint filed Monday in Sacramento federal court.
Arrested Tuesday were Mohammad Nawaz Khan, 56, and Iqila Begum Khan, 31, both of Live Oak; and Mohammad Shahbaz Khan, 56; Gurdev Kaur Johl, 67; and Kewal Singh, 74, all of Yuba City. Also charged in the complaint but not arrested is Mohammad Adnan Khan, 32, of Live Oak.
According to a 78-page affadavit of an investigator for the U.S. Department of Labor, an audit and analysis at the California Employment Development Department have thus far "revealed over 2,000 (unemployment and disability) benefit claims that are indicative of fraud filed in connection with this scheme. Not all of these claims resulted in benefits being mailed out, but according to EDD claim records, the loss to the government as a result of this fraudulent scheme currently exceeds $5 million."
The audit and analysis are not yet complete and, according to U. S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, that figure may rise.