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NCAAF: Jackson State player arrested for COVID-related fraud

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Jackson State linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain faces fraud charges related to COVID-19 unemployment money.

He surrendered to federal authorities in Los Angeles and was arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court.

McClain, 22, pleaded not guilty to being the alleged ringleader of a scheme that brought in more than $225,000 in unemployment payments.

He was released on a $20,000 bond and will stand trial on Feb. 15, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

McClain, who transferred to Jackson State last December from Southern California, is charged with 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft that allegedly occurred when he was still playing for the Trojans.

Each mail fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The identity theft counts carry a two-year mandatory prison sentence consecutive to any sentence imposed on the mail fraud counts.

According to the indictment, McClain organized a group of football players in filing fraudulent claims for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program established by Congress in response to the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.

Prosecutors said participants in the scheme received debit cards loaded with hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars after purporting to be self-employed workers, including athletic trainers and tutors, who had lost work in California due to the COVID-19 crisis.

A Jackson State spokesperson declined a request for comment from the Clarion-Ledger newspaper. The school removed McClain’s bio from its athletics website.

–Field Level Media

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