Monday, June 17 2013 11:22 PM EDT2013-06-18 03:22:43 GMT
As investigators begin to probe this weekend's fire at a west Indianapolis warehouse, neighbors are still concerned about their safety. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms' elite National ResponseMore >>
As investigators begin to probe this weekend's fire at a west Indianapolis warehouse, neighbors are still concerned about their safety.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 11:05 PM EDT2013-06-18 03:05:21 GMT
The Boston Bruins have beaten the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup finals. Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron scored in the second period and Tuukka Rask posted his thirdMore >>
Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron scored goals in the second period and Tuukka Rask made 28 saves as the Bruins took a 2-1 lead in the series.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 10:39 PM EDT2013-06-18 02:39:27 GMT
The suspect in a quadruple homicide in Waynesville last month is behind bars. Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett told Eyewitness News 55-year-old Sam Sallee was arrested at a Columbus home May 13,More >>
Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett told Eyewitness News 55-year-old Sam Sallee was arrested at a Columbus home May 13, two days after four people were murdered in a home in Waynesville.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 10:00 PM EDT2013-06-18 02:00:50 GMT
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation giving the state the nation's strictest regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling. In a news release, Quinn's office says the governor signed theMore >>
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation giving the state the nation's strictest regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling. More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 9:46 PM EDT2013-06-18 01:46:28 GMT
An Indiana State Police trooper has been shot in southwestern Indiana. Trooper Jarrod Lentz is in the hospital after the shooting near Washington, Indiana. Authorities say they do not believe his injuriesMore >>
An Indiana State Police trooper has been shot during an apparent robbery at a gun shop in southwestern Indiana.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 9:36 PM EDT2013-06-18 01:36:37 GMT
A lawsuit claims billionaire hardware kingpin John Menard pressured the wife of a business partner to have sex with Menard and his wife and retaliated with firings and lawsuits when she turned him down.
A lawsuit claims billionaire hardware kingpin John Menard pressured the wife of a business partner to have sex with Menard and his wife and retaliated with firings and lawsuits when she turned him down.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 6:40 PM EDT2013-06-17 22:40:23 GMT
Police lawsuits are costing Indianapolis millions of dollars and taxpayers are footing the bill. The City of Indianapolis is staring down a list of lawsuits with claims of nearly $38 million, most ofMore >>
The City of Indianapolis is staring down a list of lawsuits with claims of nearly $38 million, most of which are against IMPD.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 5:58 PM EDT2013-06-17 21:58:52 GMT
It is not unusual for a city or county to build statues to important people or events commemorating its past, but Hamilton County may be on the verge of a first. They're constructing statues of squirrels.More >>
It is not unusual for a city or county to build statues to important people or events commemorating its past, but Hamilton County may be on the verge of a first.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 5:27 PM EDT2013-06-17 21:27:47 GMT
Avon Police are investigating an armed robbery at a tanning salon Monday morning. It happened at Extreme Tanning on 7609 E. US Hwy 36 in Avon just before 10:00 am. The suspect was described as a whiteMore >>
Avon Police are investigating an armed robbery at a tanning salon Monday morning. Police are also looking at other robberies in the area to determine which ones fit the same description.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 4:39 PM EDT2013-06-17 20:39:06 GMT
An Indiana woman whose death sentence for a killing when she was 15 years old helped change the way juveniles are treated by courts across the country is being released from prison. Forty-three-year-oldMore >>
Forty-three-year-old Paula Cooper was freed Monday from a state prison in Rockville in western Indiana.More >>
13 Investigates has discovered hundreds of people who've been receiving unemployment benefits are being asked to pay the money back. Many other workers may be at risk as well, due to a major change in the law.
13 Investigates uncovers what went wrong for workers at a west side Pepsico plant, and why the company is now under fire.
The big "G" - Gatorade - is packaged and shipped by the truck loads in Indianapolis at Pepsico.
But between October and December each year, production stops for the year and employees at the plant are sent home. No pay from two weeks up to several months.
It's a seasonal layoff. For years under Indiana law, Pepsico employees could file for unemployment.
George Lewis had done so for 12 years.
"It would pay the bills until you got your regular paycheck," said Lewis.
But months after last year's layoff, something unusual happened.
George got a call from work. It was urgent.
"They called me and told me that I was under investigation with the state and I'm suspended. And it was a shock to me," he recalled.
Indiana's Department of Workforce Development was accusing George of fraud for taking unemployment benefits during the layoff. The problem, they said, was Pepsico later gave George holiday pay for the same period he we collecting unemployment.
"I just couldn't believe it. It was just like I was in another world or something," said George Lewis.
George wasn't alone. According to his attorney, the alleged fraud was widespread at Pepsico and generally unintentional.
"We believe that the entire company, the entire workforce was following the process that had been laid out by the company in the past," said Kent, who told 13 Investigates George was not aware of any changes in the process.
George had been filing for unemployment the same way for 12 years with no problem.
But in 2011, the law changed. Indiana's Department of Workforce Development, the state agency that pays unemployment benefits, said workers on scheduled layoffs were no longer eligible for unemployment.
Joseph Frank with Indiana Workforce Development says the state wants unemployment checks to go to people who truly are not going back to work.
"A manufacturing plant that has a re-tooling for two weeks or whatever, those folks know that after that re-tooling is over they're going to go back to work, so they wouldn't be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits," he said, making a new distinction in the law.
Stunned, George paid back every dime of unemployment the state says he wrongly took.
The state said that was good enough.
"A change in the law is not necessarily those people committing fraud," said Frank, explaining why the state is not prosecuting everyone they asked to repay money.
But Pepsico fired George, even though his attorney says he was a model employee.
"Well, it really hurts. It really hurts. Twelve years with the company. I was there when it was dirt out there, and just to leave out like this it doesn't feel good at all," Lewis confided.
Emotions spill over as he recalled the day police officers escorted him out of Pepsico, like a criminal.
"I'm a godly man. I'm a hardworking man. I love and care about everybody, I treat everybody with respect," said Lewis with conviction, as tears rolled down his face.
George was among more than 70 employees terminated.
It turns out they had more than just the unemployment overpayments in common.
All were African Americans or Hispanics. They all had also previously used federally protected Family and Medical Leave.
On behalf of the fired workers, Daniel Kent is suing Pepsico for discrimination, alleging minorities were fired as part of the investigation while their white counterparts who took the same benefits, are still working.
"A number of Caucasian employees were allowed to repay the benefits and avoid scrutiny," said Kent, who listed the names of at least 24 Caucasian employees in the federal lawsuit.
So how did the state detect fraud at Pepsico in the first place?
13 Investigates tracked down the employee who first caught the state's eye.
"I know it's my fault from how it's trickling down, and got started. But I'm not the one that said anybody's name or anything like that," Moore insisted. He says any information about other employees came from the company.
Kelly Moore was a machinist at Pepsico for ten years. It wasn't just a change in law that brought his case to the state's attention.
The state caught Moore double dipping between 2008 and 2010. He filed for unemployment benefits after he went back to work. He was receiving both a paycheck AND unemployment benefits.
That's clearly against the law.
"It's pretty hard to prove you weren't committing fraud when you had another job or were making money from a job and you click a button that said 'I didn't have a job this week,'" added Frank.
The state admits fraudulent benefits were paid out despite alerts sent to companies informing them about employees filing unemployment, and despite quarterly payroll records submitted to the state.
Joe Frank says the agency wasn't previously set up to catch those who double dip.
"In the past there weren't as many safeguards in place and people could slip through the system," he acknowledged.
Workforce Development is now going after those illegally taking unemployment.
"It's important because this is taxpayer money, it's money that is meant for people that are really in need," explained Joe Frank.
While the agency can't talk about Pepsico or any company by law, Frank says workers who didn't understand the guidelines won't face criminal charges. Getting the money back is the state's focus.
"If they didn't understand the system, we're going to work with them, we're going to recoup those funds by federal law," reiterated Frank.
Still they're out of luck and jobs at Pepsico.
"I felt kind of bad for all the people that got fired," said Moore, who was not invited to join the lawsuit against Pepsico.
Kelly Moore regrets Pepsico lost a lot of good people - people like George Lewis.
"I didn't think I did anything wrong," Lewis explained. "I feel that everybody needs to be treated fairly. Right now we feel like our names have been defamed by the company," he said.
PepsiCo's North America office in New York City tells 13 Investigates:
"This issue arose in connection with an investigation conducted by the State of Indiana's Department of Workforce Development into the unemployment benefit claims of some of our employees. We have cooperated with the state's investigation and we strongly believe that our actions were lawful, thorough, and fair."
Pepsico is now facing a federal discrimination lawsuit in addition to a lawsuit in Marion County Court over workers' vacation pay.
The State of Indiana has recouped $10.8 million in fraudulent claims over the last two years, but won't say how much has been paid back from Pepsico due to confusion with the new law.
Monday, June 17 2013 1:37 PM EDT2013-06-17 17:37:01 GMT
Metro Police are investigating after 11 business were broken into overnight on Allisonville Road. Police were called to 8604 Allisonville Road just after 4:00 am Monday. The building's security officerMore >>
Metro Police are investigating after 11 business were broken into overnight on Allisonville Road.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 4:13 AM EDT2013-06-17 08:13:01 GMT
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and state police are reminding state residents to be alert for safety concerns when attending county fairs and other local festivals. They say people shouldMore >>
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and state police are reminding state residents to be alert for safety concerns when attending county fairs and other local festivals.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 12:38 PM EDT2013-06-17 16:38:17 GMT
Metro Police detectives arrested an Indianapolis man Sunday after finding two dead bodies in the 1100 block of Miley Avenue on Saturday afternoon. The bodies have not been identified pending notificationMore >>
Metro Police detectives arrested an Indianapolis man Sunday after finding two dead bodies in the 1100 block of Miley Avenue on Saturday afternoon. The bodies have not been identified pending notification of relatives. Autopsies are scheduled Monday.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 11:41 AM EDT2013-06-17 15:41:34 GMT
The 15-year-old arrested in a deadly crime spree with a second teen is in court Monday. The February crime spree ended when the pair crashed their stolen getaway car during a police chase from MarionMore >>
Monday, June 17 2013 2:08 PM EDT2013-06-17 18:08:24 GMT
Metro homicide detectives are investigating an apparent fatal shooting in the parking lot of Babes show club on 38th Street just west of Lafayette Road. Eyewitness News has a crew on the scene and weMore >>
Indianapolis homicide detectives are sorting out an early morning murder near Lafayette Square. It's the second homicide in that area in two days.More >>
Monday, June 17 2013 12:58 PM EDT2013-06-17 16:58:44 GMT
A lawsuit filed against Indiana's social services agency claims it wrongly barred a developmentally disabled woman from Medicaid waiver programs and left her without enough income to survive. The AmericanMore >>
A lawsuit filed against Indiana's social services agency claims it wrongly barred a developmentally disabled woman from Medicaid waiver programs and left her without enough income to survive.More >>
Sunday, June 16 2013 9:19 PM EDT2013-06-17 01:19:09 GMT
Conservation Officers are investigating the fatal drowning of Jordan Laute, an 18-year-old from Marion, Sunday afternoon at Salamonie Reservoir beach. Witnesses said Laute swam out past the roped barrierMore >>
Conservation Officers are looking into the fatal drowning of Jordan Laute, an 18-year-old from Marion, Sunday afternoon at Salamonie Reservoir beachMore >>
Monday, June 17 2013 6:45 PM EDT2013-06-17 22:45:22 GMT
Investigators are trying to figure out what went wrong at a warehouse on the west side of Indianapolis. The Nationwide Recycling center on Belmont Ave. went up in flames on Saturday, forcing people toMore >>
Investigators are eager to get inside and begin their search for a cause, but it's still too dangerous. The fire burned for over eight hours Saturday, destroying a huge warehouse on Belmont Ave.More >>