VALPARAISO | A 27-year-old man faces 30 days of community service after pleading guilty Thursday to cashing a $16,125 tax refund check he knew was stolen.
Karam Awawda, of Valparaiso, pleaded guilty to a D felony count of receiving stolen property in return for prosecutors dropping a higher felony count of forgery and D felony count of theft.
If the plea is accepted May 13 by Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper, he will be sentenced to two years behind bars with all but time served and 30 days suspended and spent on formal probation. The 30 days will be served with PACT.
Awawda reportedly told police he was working at the former Clark gas station on Calumet Avenue in Valparaiso when a man asked April 27, 2010, to cash a stolen tax refund check.
Awawda said he agreed at his usual fee of $100 per $1,000, according to court records. Awawda said he kept his portion of the money and returned balance to the man, but the man said he never received his share of the money.
Investigators found Awawda deposited the money in the gas station's bank account, police said. He then withdrew $15,000 two days later and deposited $13,000 into another account under his control.
Police learned about the case while investigating a series of stolen checks.