Woman sentenced to over five years for charges of drug trafficking and pandemic unemployment fraud

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A Luzerne County woman, was sentenced on Thursday to four years in prison for trafficking methamphetamine (meth) and another year and three months imprisonment for committing pandemic unemployment fraud.

According to U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus, on Thursday, May 20, 2021, Christina Covey, 34, formerly of Drums, plead guilty to conspiration, distribution and possession with intent to distribute between 1.5 and 5 kilograms of meth within the Greater Hazleton Area, between October 2019 and February 2020.

Officials say during the scheme, conspirators would mail packages containing the meth from Arizona to Luzerne County, to be retrieved and distributed.

Police say Covey was involved in identifying and providing addresses of vacant homes for the packages to be sent to. For example, Covey once picked up a package from home on Sycamore Drive in Drums.

While Covey was on pretrial release for the federal narcotics charges, she also plead guilty to committing pandemic unemployment fraud, officials say.

According to the Department of Justice, Covey filed a false PUA application on behalf of two federal inmates, her codefendants, Fredy Mendoza and another unknown inmate. The application sought unemployment benefits for both inmates as they claimed they were out of work due to COVID-19.

Law enforcement says the conspirators lied saying they were available to work despite being incarcerated. The inmates filed false weekly reports, and received PUA benefits, securing around $30,000, which were mailed to Covey in debit cards.

Officers say Covey used the majority of the money on gambling expenses and she was ordered to pay $29,799 in restitution.

Mendoza remains in custody as he pled guilty to the meth trafficking case and is awaiting sentencing.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or the NCDF Web Complaint Form, here.

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