Prosecutors say two more women have pleaded guilty to participating in a $400,000 plot to steal from a New York City program that provided free hotel rooms to people with COVID-19 so they may live in isolation.
On Wednesday, the city’s Department of Investigation stated that Heaven West, the fourth lady connected to the scheme, had pleaded guilty. The Brooklyn native, now 22, admitted guilt to the felony charge of conspiracy to conduct wire fraud.
West’s confession came after another conspirator admitted guilt for their part in the scheme the day before. On Tuesday, as Ta Banks and Lyric Muvaa, Tatiana Benjamin pled guilty to the same offense for which she had previously been arrested.
Both will face up to 20 years in prison
On May 18, 2023, West and 28-year-old Benjamin will be sentenced, and both will face up to 20 years in prison. After entering guilty pleas, “all four offenders are held accountable for their misuse of a City program meant to help healthcare staff, COVID-19 patients, and others touched by the pandemic,” stated Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber.
In October 2021, Benjamin and West, along with Tatiana Daniel and Chanette Lewis, were charged with participating in a scheme to defraud New York’s free Hotel Room Isolation Program. This programme was established to provide free hotel rooms to people who needed to isolate themselves due to a COVID-19 infection or exposure, or to healthcare workers who needed to self-isolate.
The four criminals, who the DOI said pretended to be healthcare personnel, advertised and sold the stolen hotel rooms on Facebook to people who were ineligible to participate in the program. From April through July 2020, the women lady made hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling out rooms at the height of the pandemic.
According to the DOI, the women rented out the equivalent of 1,936 hotel stays in that period.