RALEIGH, N.C. – A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Abhishek Krishnan, a citizen of the Republic of India, with theft of government property and aggravated identity theft regarding his receipt of unemployment insurance benefits funded by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the indictment, Krishnan, age 39, was a fugitive from justice, living outside the United States, when he received approximately $40,650 in pandemic unemployment assistance obtained by using other people’s identities in his fraudulent application.
The indictment alleges that Krishnan stole federal funds earmarked for North Carolina residents who had become unemployed due to the pandemic. The second count alleges that he used the means of identification of three real people to perpetrate the theft. If convicted, the defendant faces ten-years in prison for theft of government property followed by a mandatory two years in prison for aggravated identity theft.
Previously, in 2019, Krishnan was charged with mail fraud, introducing adulterated and misbranded foods into interstate commerce and money laundering related to the sale of protein powders by his company, American Pure Whey. The 43-count superseding indictment was returned by a separate federal grand jury, also in the Eastern District of North Carolina, after an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If convicted of those charges, Krishnan’s faces a statutory maximum of more than 300 years in prison.
The 2018 superseding indictment sought forfeiture of approximately six million dollars in fraud proceeds by the defendant. The government successfully obtained civil orders of forfeiture after the Court found Krishnan was outside the United States and refused to reenter with the specific intent to avoid prosecution. It was during the time that the forfeiture was being contested that the unemployment insurance fraud allegedly occurred.
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. The United States Marshal Service is investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan B. Menzer is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Eastern District of North Carolina