Two Northwest Indiana men must repay the Indiana Department of Workforce Development thousands of dollars in unlawfully obtained unemployment benefits.

According to court records, Alejandro Galvan, 48, of Crown Point, fraudulently collected $6,246 in state unemployment payments, while Jason Howard, 37, of Valparaiso, illegally received $2,763.88.

In addition to returning the money, Galvan also was sentenced by Lake Superior Judge Diane Ross Boswell to 18 months probation following his guilty plea for welfare fraud, a level 6 felony.

Howard pleaded guilty in Porter Superior Court to conversion, a class A misdemeanor, after initially being charged with felony welfare fraud.

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He was ordered by Judge Jeffrey Clymer to serve one year probation and repay the funds.

DWD routinely obtains wage reports and new hire data from Indiana employers that it uses to ensure Hoosiers are not illegally collecting unemployment insurance benefits based on false, misreported or unreported employment records.

"Combating fraud preserves employer-paid monies in the trust fund for those individuals who are truly in need of unemployment insurance benefits," said Regina Ashley, DWD chief unemployment insurance and workforce solutions officer.

Suspected unemployment fraud can anonymously be reported online at in.gov/dwd/fraud.

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