ELKHART — Another Elkhart County resident has pleaded guilty to unemployment insurance fraud, adding to a small but growing number of local workers who have claimed jobless benefits while holding down a full-time job.
Ruben Aguilar, 38, of Goshen, pleaded guilty Monday in Elkhart County Superior Court 2 to unemployment insurance fraud, a Class D felony, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. He was sentenced to two years probation along with 50 hours of community service.
In addition, he has repaid $8,925 which includes penalties and the $6,828 he stole unemployment assistance.
“Collecting unemployment insurance benefits while you are working is fraud. It’s illegal, plain and simple,” Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Scott B. Sanders, stated in a press release. “DWD works diligently to ensure only those who are truly unemployed and eligible receive benefits.”
Within the past year, two other residents of Elkhart County have entered guilty pleas for taking unemployment payments when they were ineligible.
In July 2011, Melissa Sloop of Goshen pleaded guilty to a federal charge of stealing unemployment funds. She was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to repay nearly $16,000.
In August 2011, Derick W. Heckaman of Nappanee pleaded guilty to unemployment insurance fraud. He was placed on four years probation and ordered to repay a total of $42,808.25.
Also more cases may be coming. In August 2011, Keystone RV announced it had fired more than 20 employees for collecting state unemployment benefits while working at the company.
According to court documents, Aguilar was working and drawing wages from Keystone at the same time he was also receiving $390 a week in jobless assistance. From Oct. 23, 2010 through April 9, 2011, he filed weekly vouchers with the state, certifying that he remained unemployed and had no earnings to report.
DWD investigator Steven Stump inspected Keystone payroll records on April 6, 2011. A company representative certified Aguilar’s weekly earnings.
The state is reminding Hoosiers that they can help combat unemployment insurance fraud by reporting abuse online at www.in.gov/dwd/fraud. Anyone filing a complaint will not have to give his or her name or any identifying information.