Ex-Jets, Patriots, Raiders WR Kenbrell Thompkins pleads guilty in COVID relief fraud scheme

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 05:  Kenbrell Thompkins #85 of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Kenbrell Thompkins. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Former NFL wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins pleaded guilty in a scheme to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 unemployment insurance benefits from the state of California.

According to court records obtained by the Associated Press, Thompkins entered guilty pleas on one count of unauthorized access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in a federal court in Miami on Monday. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 6 and faces a maximum of 12 years in prison.

Per the plea agreement, Thompkins used stolen identities of Florida residents to apply for COVID-19 unemployment benefits from California. The state approved the applications and sent $300,000 in benefits in the form of debit cards to South Florida addresses Thompkins set up.  

Per the report, around $230,000 of those funds were withdrawn from ATMs across South Florida. The benefits were part of the Covid Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed by the U.S. Congress. The bill’s intent was to help people and businesses during the financial downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Thompkins, 33, played three seasons in the NFL from 2013-15 with the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders. Per Spotrac, he earned $1.4 million as an NFL player

Thompkins is the latest former professional athlete named in a fraud scheme in recent weeks. In September, ex-NFL players Clinton Portis, Tamarick Vanover and Robert McCune reportedly pleaded guilty to defrauding a league healthcare plan. On Oct. 7, 18 ex-NBA players including Terrence Williams and Glen “Big Baby” Davis were charged in an alleged $4 million scheme to defraud the NBA player’s health and welfare benefit plan.

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