Three guilty pleas in unemployment benefits fraud at county jail

Daily Post Staff Writer

Three of the 21 people who are charged in being a part of an unemployment-benefits ring based out of Maguire Jail in Redwood City that netted more than $250,000 pleaded guilty today (Feb. 1), the San Mateo County District Attorney said.

One person who appeared in court yesterday, Luis Javier Mariscal, 35, was one of the main people who spread information throughout jails and prisons in the state about the ability for inmates to file for unemployment, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Mariscal today pleaded guilty to three counts of felony conspiracy to commit unemployment fraud.

He may receive up to five years and four months in prison. Until then, he’s in jail in lieu of $200,000.

Mariscal was arrested in 2017 after the DA’s office found that he and two other men appeared in a music video while handling real guns.

He was charged for being a felon in possession of a gun. He was previously arrested in 2011 following a massive manhunt in Mountain View in Menlo Park after shots were fired at police officers on Hollyburne Avenue in Menlo Park.

Mariscal, along with Taisia Pete Fauolo III, 24, will be back in court on March 3 to be sentenced, the DA said.

Fauolo took a plea deal to one count of conspiracy and will serve up to 16 months in addition to the 24 years he is serving in prison for a shooting at a Daly City bowling alley in 2018.

Miani Pon, 21, was the third person to take a plea deal in this case today.

Pon was sentenced to a year of probation and three months jail time, which she has already served, so she was released from jail.

She, along with Fauolo and Mariscal, will be told how much restitution they will have to pay to the state on March 5, Wagstaffe said.

These three are the latest to take plea deals in the large scale case that has since led other district attorneys in the state to investigate, and charge, jail and prison inmates for filing fraudulent unemployment claims.

In November, prosecutors from around the state announced that more than 35,000 inmates around the state had filed fake unemployment forms. Some of those inmates include Scott Peterson, who was convicted in 2004 of the murder of his pregnant wife Laci Peterson, and Cary Stayner, who was convicted of killing four people in or near Yosemite in 1999.

In the San Mateo County case, 16 men in jail or prison either filed or had someone else file claims between June 20 and July 6. The DA’s office found out about the case when an investigator listening into inmate’s calls from the jail heard discussions about the fraud.

The men could not have applied for the unemployment benefits because they did not meet the four requirements to get unemployment, Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher previously told the Post.

The requirements are that they must be ready, willing, able and actively looking for work, Gallagher said.

Gallagher previously told the Post that many of the phony applications said that the inmates were “barber’s apprentices.”