HAMMOND – More than two dozen Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters were each sentenced Monday to one count of health care theft.

According to U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch's office, 27 members of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters pleaded guilty to filing false medical claims illegally requesting reimbursement of medical expenses from the union’s health care program.

All have been ordered to pay restitution to the union in the amount of $531,422.68, according to a news release. 

“Both the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefit and Security Administration take health care fraud seriously.  To be able to have restitution ordered in excess of $500,000 greatly enhances the reliability of these plans," Kirsch said. 

James Vanderberg, special agent-in-charge for the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General's Chicago region, said his office will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit and Security Administration and our law enforcement partners "to protect the integrity of employee benefit plans."

Jeffrey A. Monhart, with the Employee Benefits Security Administration in Chicago, said in a news release the office will continue aggressively investigating such crimes to "protect the right of America's workers." 

These cases were investigated by the United States Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General and the Employee Benefits Security Administration and prosecuted by  the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Indiana.

The defendants sentenced include: Michael Broviak, 60, Crown Point; Brian Clare, 41, Hebron; John Considine Jr, 38, Hobart; Bradley Crostreet, 48, Valparaiso; Ryan Cundiff, 42, Crown Point; Thomas Drutis, 61, Highland; Brian Ellis, 48, Hobart; Dennis Gardner, 55, LaPorte; William Gramhofer IV, 35, Valparaiso; Robert Gutierrez, age unknown, Demotte; Edgar Hilzley, 39, Portage; Luka Kljajic, 58, Griffith; Derek Lamprecht, 35, Hebron; Christopher LeBell, 38, Cedar Lake; Justin Lindner, 34, Lake Village; Eric Murray, 40, Valparaiso; Daniel Rehfeldt, 51, Hobart; Jeremy Ryba, 46, Walkerton; Eric Sampias, 41, Lowell; Darrell Smith, 50, Lake Station; Kenneth Tolson, 44, Monterey; Ryan Valentine, 41, Valparaiso; Aaron Vaughan, 27, Lake Station; Trommel Walters Sr., 44, Michigan City; Joshua Westfall, 40, LaPorte; Joshua Zale, 29, Chesterton; and Thomas Zale, 53, Valparaiso. 

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail