McComb woman, 4 others, sentenced for fraud

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 16, 2023

A McComb woman was sentenced to more than one year in jail Thursday for her part in a scheme to commit fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Laketia Andrews Crossley, 51, of McComb, was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $2,118 in restitution to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security for conspiring to commit wire fraud, conspiring to commit theft of public money, theft of public money, and making a false statement to a federal investigator.

According to court documents and trial evidence, Crossley conspired with Sedrick Pittman, Marcus Parker, Austin Bahm and Calveshar Isaac to receive federal unemployment insurance benefits. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the four men were inmates housed at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

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The inmates fraudulently applied for federal unemployment insurance benefits by stating on their applications that they were able and available to immediately accept employment benefits.

Due to the overwhelming number of applications for unemployment insurance, these fraudulent applications were not immediately detected, and benefits were approved for the group of prison inmates. The unemployment insurance benefits were sent by mail on debit cards to Crossley. Crossley then converted the funds on the debit cards to funds that she transmitted to Pittman, with whom she had a long-term romantic relationship, via cell phone.  When questioned about her actions by special agents of the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG), Crossley made false statements. It is contrary to federal law to fraudulently apply for or received federal unemployment insurance benefits. It is also contrary to federal law to make false statements to a federal investigator.

While Pittman, Parker, Bahm, and Isaac all pled guilty to various charges, Crossley asserted her right to a jury trial. After a three-day trial at the federal courthouse in Natchez, a jury found Crossley guilty of all charges. The other four defendants were sentenced prior to Crossley’s sentencing hearing.

Pittman received a sentence of 14 months in federal prison; Parker received a sentence of six months in federal prison; Bahm received a sentence of four months in federal prison; and Isaac received a sentence of five months in federal prison; all of which will be served consecutively to undischarged terms of imprisonment on state offenses from Pike County.