Abdul-Malik McClain, USC
Photo: Rivals

Former Jackson State transfer Abdul-Malik McClain was arrested by federal authorities on allegations that he operated a scheme to illegally obtain thousands of dollars in COVID-19-related unemployment benefits while at USC.

McClain, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, pleaded not guilty in federal court to 10 counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

He was released on a $20,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 15.

McClain, a linebacker from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, transferred to Jackson State last December. He has since been removed from the team and his name no longer appears on the official roster.

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According to the indictment, “McClain organized and assisted a group of other football players in filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits, including under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program established by Congress in response to the pandemic’s economic fallout” while he was a member of the USC football team.

The indictment alleges that the claims — which were filed with the California Employment Development Department (EDD), the administrator of the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) benefit program — contained false information about the football players’ supposed prior employment, pandemic-related job loss, and job-seeking efforts in California.”

The indictment also stated that McClain caused at least three dozen fraudulent applications for relief to be submitted that sought at least $903,688 in benefits; at least $227,736 was paid out.

In October 2020, McClain’s brother, Munir McClain, had been suspended by USC in connection with his role in the scheme.

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


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