Ex-Washington State Employee Pleads Guilty To Pandemic Fraud

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) – Prosecutors say a former employee of Washington state’s Employment Security Department has pleaded guilty to three federal felonies for exploiting his employment for personal enrichment and fraudulently distributing at least $360,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

Acting U.S. Attorney Nick Brown says Reyes De La Cruz III, of Moses Lake, pleaded guilty Wednesday to crimes in which he personally enriched himself by at least $130,000.

Court records say De La Cruz was hired to help the Employment Security Department deal with the crush of filings for pandemic unemployment benefits.

The plea agreement says De La Cruz will face around six years in prison when sentenced in September.

He has remained in federal custody since his 2021 arrest.

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