A Chesterton man has pleaded guilty in federal court to using his brother’s
personal information to claim unemployment benefits, the U.S. Attorney’s
Office for the Northern District of Indiana said.
Leon Thomas, 38, pleaded guilty last week to one count of aggravated
identity theft, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
In exchange for Thomas’ plea, the other two charges against him—one count of
identity theft and one of theft of government property—would be dismissed.
The maximum penalty for aggravated identity theft, according to the plea
agreement, is two years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and one year of
Thomas also agreed to provide a complete and truthful financial statement
and to pay any restitution ordered.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 15.
In the plea agreement, Thomas stipulated to the following:
“From in or around June 2009, through and including July 2010, while I was
employed at a manufacturing company in Michigan City, Indiana, I applied for
unemployment insurance benefits and extended unemployment benefits using the
identity of my brother,” Thomas stated. “I not only used my brother’s name
to work at this company but also used his Social Security number and date of
birth. I agree that I did not have any legal authority to possess and/or use
my brother’s identity.”
In addition, Thomas stated, “I unlawfully received unemployment insurance
benefit payments that consisted of both federal and state money. When asked
on the weekly claim voucher whether I was working, I answered ‘No’ when in
truth I was working and receiving a paycheck.”
“I do not dispute that I unlawfully received a total of $11,590 in federal
funds as well as $13,626 in state funds for the unemployment benefits I
received,” Thomas concluded.
The case was investigated by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development
and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General.