BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Prosecutors so far have charged 10 people in Kern County with COVID-related unemployment fraud.
According to the District Attorney’s office, there are four cases: Gabriel Alvarez-Soto, Caroline Anorve, Jeans Rene Anorve and Ivette Gomez are charged in one case; Richard Derderian and Melissa Godshall in the second; Charles Chelossi and Devon Brown in another; and Wade Benson and Deborah Hicks in the final one.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said additional cases remain under investigation. Kern County is leading a statewide task force that has arrested 68 people on suspicion of defrauding the state unemployment fund.
As previously reported by 17 News, court filings say Derderian was an inmate at Shafter’s Modified Community Correctional Facility when he conspired with Godshall to file a claim for unemployment benefits on his behalf. The claim identified him as a self-employed barber and custom painter who had been without work since March because of the coronavirus. He was actually behind bars during that time, the filings say.
Derderian received a total of $21,710 before investigators discovered the alleged fraud, according to the documents.