Murderer Got $30,000 In Unemployment Benefits While Jailed, Police Say
Anthony Garcia first made the papers in April last year, when he was arrested for a 2004 murder thanks to an incredibly detailed depiction of the crime inked across his torso. Now his tattooed chest is making headlines again. While in the Los Angeles County jail system, Garcia allegedly had family and friends collect over $30,000 of his unemployment benefits. The money was used to aid gang activities, according to a spokesman for the county sheriff's department.
Garcia purportedly received $1,600 a month in unemployment insurance between October 2008 and March 2010. His girlfriend, his father, and his father's girlfriend deposited part of the money into Garcia's jail account, and part of it into the accounts of Garcia's fellow jailed gang members, Mike Parker, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, told the Los Angeles Times.
California's state unemployment insurance provides a maximum of $450 a week for up to 26 weeks, although a series of extensions have allowed some longterm unemployed to remain eligible for an additional 73 weeks. In California, the benefits are funded entirely by employers, who pay a tax on the first $7,000 of wages of every employee.
While California's unemployment benefits are about average in the nation, the costs are much higher, because the state's unemployment rate is the second highest in the country. This year, California will have to pay at least $300 million in interest payments on federal loans used to fund jobless benefits, according to the Federal Funds Information for States. In January, the state's employers suffered a 0.3 percent tax hike, which happens automatically when states can't repay their bills.
Garcia's three suspected accomplices have been arrested, but it's not yet clear whether Garcia himself with face charges on top of the first degree murder conviction that's sentenced him to prison for the next 64 years to life.
Garcia, 26, was first arrested in 2008 for driving with a suspended license. Police snapped pictures of his heavily-inked body, because he appeared to be an active member of a notorious gang. Those tattoos included a picture of a helicopter shooting down a Mr. Peanut in front of a liquor store, below the line "Rivera Kills."
Garcia's gang is Rivera 13, his nickname is "Chopper," and "peanuts" is a derogatory term for a rival gang. The depiction was reminiscent of an unsolved murder from 2004.
The murder victim's girlfriend said the tattoo was the "stupidest" thing Garcia ever did. "And for that I thank you," she said, "because without that stupid tattoo, you wouldn't have been caught."
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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