Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correctly reflect the spelling of Jamie Court’s name and to emphasize the suspect, Jamie Willams-Major, is accused of the mentioned crime.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The woman accused of being behind the biggest California Employment Development Department fraud scheme in Sacramento County history made an appearance in court Wednesday.
Wearing a striped orange and white jumpsuit, 35-year-old Jamie Willams-Major faces 166 counts in connection to her alleged fraud involving the EDD.
Williams-Major was arrested in Las Vegas recently after investigators said she used the names of inmates to collect $2.75 million from the EDD.
“The gravity of this problem has not been taken seriously by those in charge,” said Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale.
Estimates put the amount of total fraud money handed out by the EDD to be around $20 billion.
State Assembly Member Tom Lackey, who has championed change within the EDD, said while some looking to work the system have received money, during the pandemic his office has dealt with many upset people unable to collect their legitimate funds.
“We used to take just very few calls, then we were averaging over 100 calls a day, it was becoming enormous and consuming all my staff and their time,” Lackey said.
Over a year ago Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed a new director to the EDD.
For Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, the change hasn’t been enough.
“It’s shocking,” Court told FOX40. “We’ve had fraud, we’ve had payments gone amiss, we have a department with a computer system that’s ancient, and we’ve had privacy problems. And the problems just keep going on and on.”
For Williams-Major specifically, she had already been arrested last April.
At the time, investigators believed her accused fraud totaled a quarter of a million dollars, a far cry from the $2.75 million she is alleged to have stolen.
Court said the best way to fix the EDD problems starts at the top with the governor during reelection.
“I think this is going to be one of the key issues in the gubernatorial election, and whether or not the governor faces a significant challenge or not, he needs to have a good answer for the Californians who are going to vote for him,” Court said.