SACRAMENTO (BCN) — A former Stockton resident was sentenced Tuesday to six years and three months in prison for a scheme of mail fraud and identity theft against the California Employment Development Department, according to the U.S Attorney’s Office.

Robert Maher, 42, was found guilty of filling at least 72 fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits from November 2010 to February 2018 that total up to $739,535, federal prosecutors said.

SPECIAL SECTION: California EDD Fraud

A second defendant, Michael Herron, had pleaded guilty in 2019 to counts of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft and was also sentenced to six years and three months in prison.

The EDD paid out approximately $609,335 of the $739,535 that Maher and Herron claimed under the insurance benefits claims.

According to court documents, Maher and Herron created fake companies and employees in order to apply for unemployment benefits. The two men were able to do so by using real identities of individuals, some of whom were not aware of the fraud being committed and some who did.

Maher and Herron filed the unemployment claims and falsely stated that the employees had been laid-off or fired.

The unemployment benefits were then deposited onto debit cards that were mailed to addresses controlled by Maher, Herron and other associates taking part in the fraud.

After the benefits got to the mailing addresses, Maher and Herron would transfer the card’s benefits to Maher’s personal bank account.

U.S. District Judge John Mendez ordered Maher to pay restitution to the EDD in the amount of $609,335 after giving him the prison sentence.