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Three Missourians indicted in coronavirus aid fraud scheme

Warren Watkins is facing 37 counts, while Marissia Jackson and Lamar Johnson are charged in 10

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A federal grand jury has indicted three Missourians in an alleged scheme to use the identities of people who had died to collect thousands of dollars from federal funds meant to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Warren W. Watkins, 39, and Marissia Jackson, 25, both of Kansas City; and Lamar K. Johnson, 40, of Eldon, Mo., were charged in a 37-count sealed indictment returned Oct. 5. The indictment was unsealed Thursday after Watkins and Johnson were arrested.

The indictment alleges the three suspects used other people's identities to file 238 fraudulent claims and received $285,600 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security funds.

Watkins was associated with two funeral homes and 226 of the people whose identities were used to file the claims had funeral services from those homes or a third associated home, prosecutors said.

The suspects are also accused of filing at least 28 false federal income tax returns in the other people's names seeking a total of $152,155 in tax credits and refunds. The Internal Revenue Service paid only $4,800 of the claims.

Watkins is charged in each of the 37 counts, while Jackson and Johnson each are charged in a total of 10 counts.