Financial Crime: Convicted murderer filed phony COVID-19 benefit applications less than a week after leaving prison, prosecutors say

This guy must really like spending time behind bars.

A convicted murderer has been charged with stealing nearly $150,000 in COVID-19 relief aid just days after being set free following 21 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Kyle McLemore, 44, of Philadelphia, had been convicted of fatally shooting a man and wounding three others in a gun fight outside a high school championship basketball game in 1998.

Federal prosecutors say that less than a week after McLemore was released from prison last May, he fraudulently applied for emergency COVID-19 unemployment benefits and small business loan funds. 

It was not immediately clear whether McLemore had retained an attorney and he could not immediately be reached as he was in federal custody. 

“‘Fraudsters who try to steal these funds are taking advantage of others’ misfortune.‘”

— Jennifer Williams, the acting U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania

In his unemployment assistance application, prosecutors say McLemore said he had lost his job in March 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to sweep through the U.S. But in March 2020, McLemore was still incarcerated. He ultimately received $14,555 in unemployment benefits before the fraud was discovered.

Prosecutors say that in June, McLemore submitted an application for a disaster loan from the Small Business Administration, claiming he ran a tobacco business that employed 11 people. The business didn’t exist but McLemore used a forged business license as verification. He ultimately received $125,000, according to court documents.

McLemore allegedly withdrew much of the money from the bank in cash, giving some to his sister and using some to make car loan payments, prosecutors said. 

“Fraudsters who try to steal these funds are taking advantage of others’ misfortune — ripping them off while also ripping off all taxpayers who fund the programs,”  said Jennifer Williams, the acting U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.

If convicted on charges of mail fraud and theft of public funds, McLemore faces up to 40 years in prison.

Championship game shooting

In 1999, when McLemore was 21 years old, he was convicted, along with Nathaniel Ortiz, of third-degree murder and aggravated assault in the shooting death of 22-year-old Anthony ‘Tupac’ Davis, outside the Palestra sports arena at the University of Pennsylvania.

Prosecutors say McLemore and Ortiz were among a group of men hunting for Davis and his friends in a dispute over a woman, and the shooting took place as people were leaving the arena after the Public League’s boys basketball championship game. 

Three others, including a bystander and a Penn graduate student, were wounded.

When he was 17, McLemore shot and killed a 28-year-old man during a struggle in 1994, but was acquitted after a judge found that he acted in self-defense.

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