Two Indian-origin women in the United States have been sentenced to two years in prison each for making false declarations before a grand jury.
Harjit Kaur Johal, 50, and Jasvir Kaur, 47, were sentenced by US District Judge Garland Burrell.
According to evidence presented at trial in March 2017, the two participated in a series of unemployment and disability fraud schemes in Yuba City. The organisers of the schemes were Mohammad Nawaz Khan, Mohammad Adnan Khan, Mohammad Shahbaz Khan, and Mohammad Riaz Khan.
The organisers set up a series of farm labour contracting businesses that purported to provide labour to harvest crops in Sutter and Yuba counties.
The organisers then sold fraudulent paystubs to other people, including the defendants, and reported false wages to the Employment Development Department (EDD). The purchasers of the paystubs would subsequently file for unemployment or disability benefits with the EDD based upon the fictitious wages.
Because the amount of the benefits that the EDD pays is based upon the claimant's prior earnings, the participants would pay the Khans to report high wages to the EDD.
In 2014, Johal and Kaur were subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the fraud scheme. During their testimony, when questioned about their wages, they falsely stated under oath that they picked peaches for Ray Khan and that they did not commit fraud.
Testimony from individuals with knowledge of Ray Khan's real employees established that he did not employ the defendants.
Evidence presented at the trial showed the defendants had reported chronic back and knee problems in prior disability claims with the EDD and were not capable of doing the physically intensive work required by peach picking.
The evidence established that the defendants purchased paystubs from Ray Khan so that he would report falsely inflated wages to the EDD, which the defendants could then use to claim the maximum possible amount of unemployment benefits.
Both defendants had participated in previous fraud schemes with other Khan family members and had already claimed benefits in excess of USD 30,000 each.
This case is part of a series of cases involving the Khan family's fraud schemes. Over the course of these related conspiracies, the Khans reported wages for over 400 separate individuals that resulted in more than 2,000 fraudulent claims for unemployment and disability benefits.
The fraud schemes defrauded the California Employment Development Department of more than USD 14 million. To date, 26 individuals have been convicted of various offences related to the schemes.