DELANO, Calif. (KGET) — A Delano inmate and a friend on the outside have pleaded no contest to defrauding the state Employment Development Department of $21,710 by falsely claiming he was unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
The no contest pleas were made over the objection of prosecutors after the court indicated Richard Derderian would be sentenced to three years in prison to be served consecutive to his current sentence, and Melissa Godshall would be given probation with credit for time served. They would also have to pay restitution.
The District Attorney’s office said the court has indicated it will grant a motion to strike all nine strike convictions Derderian received in 2019 — and for which he is currently in prison — in order for him to get the three-year term. Those convictions were for robbery, residential burglary, witness intimidation and criminal threats.
“The District Attorney’s office will be opposing the judge’s proposed sentence, including the judge’s proposal to strike all nine of Derderian’s strikes, and arguing for longer sentences for both defendants,” Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said in an email.
Derderian was one of tens of thousands of California inmates across the state who investigators say received payments in a massive fraud scheme to get illegal unemployment benefits.
On July 8, 2020, Derderian called Godshall from Shafter’s Modified Community Correctional Facility and asked her to file an unemployment claim for him, according to court documents. They put his profession down as a barber and painter who made $10,000 a month before COVID-19 closed his business.
They received an EDD debit for $14,880, and more payments followed before the alleged fraud was discovered.
Sentencing is scheduled Aug. 24.