News Column

Former Workforce Commission employees among those accused of falsifying unemployment info

May 7, 2014

By Karen Antonacci, The Monitor, McAllen, Texas



May 08--MCALLEN -- A federal grand jury handed down an indictment alleging two people faked employer information so they could steal unemployment benefits from 2009 to 2013.

The indictment out of the U.S. District Court, McAllen division, says Jose Angel Guevara -- a former claims examiner with the Texas Workforce Commission -- would create fake employer information and provide it to Jessie Garcia, who did not work for the commission.

Jessie Garcia would submit fake employer information in order to get unemployment benefits for a fifth person that was not indicted. On at least six occasions from 2011 to September 2013, the group worked to mail out Chase Bank debit cards loaded with unemployment benefit money to six different people in Brownsville, the indictment says.

The indictment also accuses two others -- Alejandro Garcia and Jeremiah Hernandez -- with intentionally accessing a computer they were not authorized to access that contained names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of people claiming unemployment. Alejandro Garcia was employed as a supervisor, and Hernandez worked as a claims supervisor, the indictment says.

When reached for comment, a spokeswoman for the commission said the four employees no longer work there and the commission investigates any allegation of fraud.

"We prosecute anyone who seeks to defraud the Unemployment Insurance benefits or other program," Lisa Givens, spokeswoman for the commission, said in a statement. "Our agency is committed to protecting those benefits for the qualifying individuals who need them."

kantonacci@themonitor.com

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Source: Monitor (McAllen, TX)