Saturday, April 20, 2024

Former Crips Gang Member Swindled Taxpayers to Pay for Plastic Surgery

California taxpayers lost more than $200,000 after a former Crips gang member and current prison inmate conspired with other inmates to file fraudulent unemployment insurance claims.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California identified that former gang member as Sholanda Thomas, 38.

“According to court documents, Thomas sent her own and other inmates’ personally identifiable information to Christina Smith, a parolee and a former Hoover Crips gang member, to submit the unemployment insurance claims in their names,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

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“The underlying applications falsely represented that the inmates had been working as carpet cleaners, hair stylists, mechanics, and other jobs. This was impossible because they were incarcerated and ineligible for benefits. The intended loss to the EDD and the United States was over $250,000 and the actual loss was more than $200,000. The proceeds were spent on various personal expenses, including plastic surgery for Smith.”

The inmates submitted their claims to the California Employment Development Department (EDD).

Federal officials last year sentenced Smith to five years in prison for her role in the conspiracy. Thomas was sentenced last week to five years and five months in prison.

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According to, the Hoover Criminal gangs originated on the west side of south Los Angeles. Members named themselves after a street named Hoover. 

“By the 1980s, during the crack epidemic in the south-central region of Los Angeles, the Hoover Gangster Crips became one of the most notorious street gangs to participate in the drug world,” according to the website, adding they were one of the most feared criminal street gangs in the 1980s.

“Their brutal reputation for gun violence made them one of the first suspects to be blamed for gang-related shootings. By the late 1980s, the Hoover Criminals were engaged in bitter rivalries with several crips.”

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