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California gun bust leads to charges of $600,000 in fraud

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — In what a district attorney called a “dangerous combination,” prosecutors say a gun bust has led investigators to uncover $600,000 in pandemic-related fraud from California’s beleaguered unemployment agency.

Adrian Sykes, 24, was arrested Monday for the second time in the case, this time in Las Vegas.

He was initially arrested in February after a traffic stop in Sacramento, where prosecutors said he was found with an illegal fully automatic handgun.

A search of his home turned up drugs, body armor and five guns including an assault rifle and two loaded unregistered guns, one a Mac-9 and the other an assault pistol, prosecutors said.

Investigators said they also found six unemployment agency debit cards.

Sykes was initially charged with six counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one of possessing drugs with a firearm, and one of being a felon in possession of ammunition.

He posted bail and was released, but investigators followed up on the debit cards. Prosecutors allege that Sykes and his girlfriend, Brittney Murchison, 26, filed 35 fraudulent unemployment claims and obtained more than $600,000 using personal identifying information from victims nationwide.

Investigators say overall losses from widespread fraud in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and unemployment insurance benefits will top at least $11 billion.

Murchison was arrested in late May on 16 charges of unemployment fraud and one of identity theft.

Sykes is awaiting extradition to California to face another 35 counts of unemployment fraud and one of identity theft.

Sacramento County prosecutors said they don’t know if either has an attorney who could comment on their behalf.

District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who is running for state attorney general, called the “staggering” amount of unemployment fraud and a rise in illegal guns a “dangerous combination.”

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