NCAA player charged with fraud over COVID-19 unemployment benefits

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Jackson State University football player Abdul-Malik McClain was arrested Monday in California on fraud charges related to COVID-related unemployment benefits.

The federal indictment against the 22-year-old was filed in United States District Court in California.


McClain, who is from California and previously attended the University of Southern California, surrendered to authorities on Monday.

The outside linebacker is charged with 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

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Prosecutors accuse McClain of participating in a group scheme that fraudulently sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-related unemployment benefits.

"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," according to the indictment.

The indictment says McClain "allegedly caused at least three dozen fraudulent applications to be filed with the California Employment Development Department (EDD) during the summer of 2020. According to the indictment, those fraudulent applications sought at least $903,688 in PUA benefits and led the EDD to pay out at least $227,736."


McClain was living in Los Angeles in 2020 during the alleged scheme. He transferred to Jackson State in November, 2020 to play for Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Deion Sanders.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was ordered released on a $20,000 bond.

His trial is set to begin on Feb. 15, 2022.

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Jackson State has removed McClain's bio page from its athletics website.

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