Ex-WR Thompkins guilty of COVID relief fraud


MIAMI — A former NFL wide receiver and South Florida native has pleaded guilty to stealing identities to fraudulently obtain coronavirus-related unemployment insurance benefits in California.

Kenbrell Armod Thompkins, 33, pleaded guilty Monday in Miami federal court to one count of unauthorized access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to court records. He faces up to 12 years in prison at his scheduled Jan. 6 sentencing.

According to a plea agreement, Thompkins used the stolen identities of numerous Florida residents to obtain fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits from the state of California. California distributed these unemployment benefit funds as debit cards, which were mailed to addresses associated with Thompkins in Miami and nearby Aventura, prosecutors said.

In August and September 2020, Thompkins used these debit cards to withdraw funds at various ATMs in Miami-Dade County, prosecutors said. They said the scheme involved approximately $300,000 in California unemployment insurance funds, out of which about $230,000 of the funds were withdrawn.

Thompkins was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New England Patriots in 2013 and has also been a member of the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets.

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act last year to help individuals and businesses financially survive the COVID-19 pandemic, including through the provision of federal funds to state unemployment insurance benefit programs.

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