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Final California PG&E pipeline blast scammer ends up in prison

17 July 2012

The seventh and final person charged with scamming aid bound for survivors of the PG&E gas line blast in San Bruno has been sentenced to time behind bars. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles gave Deonte Jerome Bennett of Oakland three years in prison for pretending to be a victim of the blast that killed eight people in September 2010.

The 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people and destroyed 40 houses in the San Francisco suburb
The 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people and destroyed 40 houses in the San Francisco suburb

Prosecutors say Bennett and co-defendant Niesha Marie Taylor of San Francisco, both 27, went to the aid centre for victims and claimed they needed help because their belongings burned up in the flames. They gave San Bruno addresses when they signed up for new identification cards, prosecutors said.

A Department of Motor Vehicles employee caught the scam and called police. 

Taylor and Bennett allegedly told investigators they rented a room in the neighborhood ravaged by an exploded Pacific Gas & Electric pipe. But when pressed, the pair couldn't identify the owners, prosecutors said. Bennett pleaded no contest to perjury and identity theft, both felonies.

Taylor and Bennett are among seven people who have already been sentenced in connection with San Bruno aid scams.


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