By Steve Beck

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A New Jersey man was convicted of fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits while he was in jail.

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Bruce Garrett, 63, of Vineland, was found guilty Wednesday of third-degree theft by deception by a jury in Cumberland County.

According to the Attorney General’s office, from March 26, 2009 through September 21, 2009, Garrett collected $15,768 in unemployment benefits while serving a sentence in the Cumberland County Jail for driving while intoxicated.

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In order to continue to receive unemployment benefits, a recipient must certify, among other things, that he or she is available to work.

Prosecutors said Garrett continued to receive benefits while in jail because fraudulent certifications were submitted for him via the Internet each week, or by phone in a couple of instances, that he was “available to go to work immediately,” when in fact he was in jail and ineligible to receive benefits.

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Garrett could face three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29th.