sanbrunofiredamage.jpgTwo people arrested on suspicion of trying to claim benefits intended for victims of San Bruno’s pipeline explosion failed to show up in San Mateo County Superior Court to be arraigned this morning.

Deonte Bennett, 25, of Oakland, and Niesha Taylor, 26, of San Francisco, are both accused of visiting a temporary disaster center five days after the Sept. 9 explosion in the Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood and fraudulently applying for “needed services,” including new DMV identification, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Bennett and Taylor allegedly said their belongings had burned in the fire and gave false addresses within the burn area to DMV representatives, Wagstaffe said.

When DMV workers suspected fraud and notified police, the pair allegedly lied to investigators, saying their property was in a house they rented but could not say who the owner was, according to Wagstaffe.

The two were arrested and charged with multiple felonies, including burglary, perjury and filing of false documents.

Both defendants were released on $25,000 bail, and neither showed up in court this morning, prompting the court to issue $100,000 bench warrants for their arrests.

Taylor is believed to be in custody in San Francisco on unrelated charges, Wagstaffe said.

Chris Cooney, Bay City News

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