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Jackson State University Linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain Arrested Following Alleged COVID-19 Relief Scheme

A linebacker from Jackson State University (JSC) was arrested and charged with fraud and identity theft for allegedly defrauding the government of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds.

On Monday, Abdul-Malik McClain, 22, was arrested by federal agents after organizing the fraud with several other players while attending the University of Southern California (USC) in 2020. Three relief applications were allegedly submitted by McClain seeking benefits of $903,688; at least $227,736 was paid. 

According to ESPN, the indictment states that McClain “organized and assisted a group of other football players in filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).”

ESPN reports, the indictment alleges the claims – which were filed with the California Employment Development Department (EDD), the administrator of the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) benefits program – contained false information about the football player’s supposed prior employment, pandemic-related job loss, and job-seeking efforts in California.

This December, McClain, who transferred to Jackson State University, pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft in a United States District Court in Los Angeles, California. The JSC football player was released on a $20,000 bond and will appear in court on Feb 15. 

USC also suspended his brother, Munir McClain, for the same reason in October 2020. The Los Angeles Times reported Munir admitted to applying for the financial relief funds but clarified that he was under the impression that he would qualify due to the loss of his income during the pandemic. Munir, a wide receiver, transferred to the University of Utah. 

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