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Brandon woman pleads guilty to stealing COVID-19 unemployment insurance benefits

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A Brandon woman pled guilty to theft of unemployment insurance benefits related to the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday.

Aubrey D. Martinez, 36, assisted another individual in applying for unemployment benefits with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security despite the person not being eligible to receive the funds.

The unemployment insurance benefits were federally subsidized through the CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One source of relief provided by the CARES Act is the authorization that expands states’ ability to provide unemployment insurance for many workers impacted by COVID-19, including for workers who are not ordinarily eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced on May 16 and faces a maximum penalty to 10 years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine.

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