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#pounditFriday, May 20, 2022

Ex-USC player arrested on federal charges for alleged COVID scheme

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A former USC football player was arrested this week and is facing several charges stemming from an alleged COVID-19-related fraud scheme.

Abdul-Malik McClain, who transferred from USC to Jackson State last November, was arrested on Monday in Los Angeles and charged with 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. McClain and other football players are accused of orchestrating a scheme to claim COVID-related unemployment benefits.

McClain was indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 16 after prosecutors determined he and his associates filed more than 30 fraudulent applications seeking a total of more than $900,000. Roughly $227,000 of the money was paid out, according to Brian Rokos of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“While a member of his university’s football team, McClain organized and assisted a group of other football players in filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits, including under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program established by Congress in response to the pandemic’s economic fallout,” the indictment says. “The indictment … contained false information about the football players’ supposed prior employment, pandemic-related job loss, and job-seeking efforts in California.”

The players were allegedly mailed debit cards from Bank of America that were loaded with hundreds of thousands in unemployment benefits. They used the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.

McClain was released after posting $20,000 bond. He is due back in court on Feb. 15. No other arrests were announced on Monday.

Abdul-Malik’s brother, Munir McClain, was suspended by USC last year amid a federal probe into unemployment benefit fraud. Munir has since transferred to Utah. The McClains said at the time that they applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and helped other USC players.

McClain, a linebacker, had three total tackles at Jackson State this season.

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