Ex-USC football player Abdul-Malik McClain charged with COVID relief fraud

Abdul-Malik McClain
Photo: AP

USC Athletics may want to start getting more creative – come on, how many times can you be associated with postal fraud in three years? Just two years after the athletic department was rocked by the infamous college admissions scandal in which USC administrators were found guilty of taking bribes to admit unskilled students as recruited athletes, a former Trojan linebacker was charged. of 10 counts of postal fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

Abdul-Malik McClain, who now plays for Jackson state, is accused of organizing a scheme with other Trojan athletes to forge unemployment claims in order to illegally obtain financial benefits from COVID unemployment relief funds during summer 2020. claims that McClain and other soccer players fraudulently filed over $ 900,000 in unemployment benefits, of which at least $ 227,000 was paid. Prosecutors say McClain was also getting some of the benefits of other players for orchestrating and helping to file the fake unemployment claims. McClain, 22, was released on bail. Deadspin made multiple calls to McClain’s attorney, but they weren’t returned.

A declaration The Justice Department says the players ‘claims “contained false information about the football players’ alleged previous employment, job loss due to the pandemic, and California job search efforts.” The three dozen complaints were filed not only in their name but in the name of acquaintances and friends, claiming they lost their jobs as a tutor or athletic trainer due to the pandemic.

If this sounds familiar to you, it may be. McClain’s brother Munir, who also played for USC and later moved to Utah, was suspended by the USC in 2020 for his participation in this scandal. Normally, unemployment benefits don’t apply to college students working part-time or self-employed, but the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program has expanded to include that group of workers. Munir McClain filed his request after sales from his shoe resale business dried up during the pandemic, but said he felt it was a legitimate request under the assistance program.

If Abdul-Malik McClain is found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge of postal fraud. There are no other players named in the indictment. His next court hearing is in February.

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