'Meth kingpin' sentenced to 15 years in drug conspiracy, stealing $2M in pandemic unemployment

A Detroit man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Wednesday for leading a drug organization that trafficked methamphetamine across the country - while also running a separate $2.1 million pandemic unemployment insurance fraud conspiracy, officials said.

Robert Lampkin led a drug conspiracy that purchased over nine kilograms of methamphetamine from a California supplier that was brought back to Michigan in airline luggage by three other accomplices by US Attorney Dawn Ison. The case alleges that codefendants JoShawn Bennett, 37, Tiffany Stockman, 24 and Tammie Wade, 32 all took part in the operation.

Ison's Eastern District of Michigan US attorney release called Lampkin, 41, a "kingpin" for his role in running the operation. 

Lampkin and codefendant Brenden Lockridge, 26, separately used stolen personal identifying information of other individuals to file fraudulent claims for pandemic unemployment assistance in multiple states.

Lampkin’s and Lockridge’s sentences also require them to pay back the $2.1 million stolen from multiple states as restitution.

"We will use every resource available to combat those who spread the scourge of illegal drugs in our communities," said United States Attorney Dawn Ison.  "We also won’t cease our efforts to hold accountable those who used a global pandemic to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers."

"The men and women of the DEA and our law enforcement partners remain committed to targeting interstate methamphetamine traffickers contributing to the nation’s drug crisis. This sentence reflects our continued resolve to partner with all our law-enforcement counterparts to fight greed, violence, and drug addiction," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene.

"Robert Lampkin conspired with Brenden Lockridge to file fraudulent unemployment insurance (UI) claims in the names of identity theft victims, receiving benefits to which they were not entitled. They enriched themselves by defrauding a program that was intended to assist struggling American workers during an unprecedented global pandemic," said Special Agent-in-Charge Irene Lindow.  "We and our law enforcement partners are committed to identifying and prosecuting the criminals who took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain pandemic UI benefits."

The case was investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Paul Kuebler prosecuted the case for the United States.