California · COVID-19

Woman charged with using Scott Peterson’s name to steal COVID unemployment

A California woman was charged with using the names of convicted killers, including Scott Peterson, to collect more than $145,000 in fraudulent unemployment benefits — a small but headline-grabbing part of more than $20 billion stolen in similar scams during the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Brandy Iglesias made her initial court appearance Wednesday on 10 charges including grand theft, forgery, identity theft and making false statements, the California attorney general’s office announced.

Iglesias didn’t enter a plea. She was ordered held on $20,000 bail pending an Oct. 26 court date.

An email seeking comment from her attorney, Ariana Alejandre, wasn’t immediately returned.

One set of charges was for using Peterson’s name to claim $18,562 from the state Employment Development Department in June 2020. Peterson was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and unborn child and dumping their bodies into San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. But a judge is deciding whether Peterson must have a new trial because of juror misconduct.

Iglesias is also charged with filing for unemployment in the name of Cary Stayner in 2020, collecting $20,194. Stayner confessed to killing three women who were sightseeing in Yosemite National Park in 1999.

Peterson and Stayner were among numerous inmates who had claims filed in their names, prosecutors said in 2020.

Iglesias was employed by a private company that contracted with San Quentin State Prison, where Peterson and Stayner are housed, and may have used her job to get access to prisoners’ personal information, prosecutors said.

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Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.