FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – An inmate at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges for leading a $25 million fraud against the California Employment Development Department during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Department of Justice.

Federal officials say Telvin Breaux, 32, and three of the co-defendants: Fantasia Brown, 35 of Los Angeles, Shanice White, 29, of Hawthorne, and Holly White, 33, of Los Angeles, also pleaded guilty for their roles in the fraud.

According to court documents, Breaux and his co-defendants obtained the personal identifying information of other inmates, non-inmates, and minor children. Many of the non-inmates were patients or customers at hospitals, dentist offices, and other businesses where one of the co-defendants worked or had a point of contact.

Officials say co-defendants Fantasia Brown and Shanice White collected and distributed some of the proceeds according to Breaux’s instructions. For example, in one instance Breaux asked Fantasia Brown to open another safe deposit box for him because he was only keeping $200,000 in each box. Shanice White told Breaux that she needed a cash counting machine because her hands were hurting from counting so much money. Breaux then replied that he was expecting another $120,000 that week.

Investigators found pictures of cash proceeds and a cash counting machine on cell phones during the investigation.

As a result, police say over $400,000 in fraudulent claims were submitted to the California Employment Development Department and the United States. The total value claims were approved and fully paid out, which was nearly $25,000,000.

Officials state Telvin Breaux and Fantasia Brown are scheduled to be sentenced on March 18, 2024.  Shanice White is scheduled to be sentenced on December 18, 2023, and Holly White is scheduled to be sentenced on January 16, 2024. 

Each of them face maximum statutory penalties of twenty-two years in prison and fines of $250,000.  

Daryol Richmond, 32, who was an inmate at the Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, was previously convicted for his involvement in the fraud.  He was sentenced to over five years in federal prison in December 2022.

The remaining defendants in the case are Cecelia Allen, 35, of Downey, Tonisha Brown, 30, of Los Angeles, and Fantasia Davis, 34, of Victorville.  Their next court date is September 18, 2023.