Trumbull County man ordered to repay $5K for workers’ comp fraud

David Martindale, of Warren in Trumbull County, pleaded guilty Oct. 9 in Warren Municipal Court to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s Special Investigations Department began looking into the matter after receiving an allegation that Martindale was working while receiving BWC benefits. Financial records and interviews showed that Martindale did return to work while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Martindale was sentenced to serve 180 days in jail, which was suspended for five years of probation. He was also fined $200 plus court costs, and ordered to repay $5,679.64 in restitution to BWC. If he violates the terms of his probation, Martindale will serve the jail time.

Fraud Fridays: Sharing our good news, exploring workers’ comp fraud issues

At the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, we see Fridays as an opportunity to highlight our Special Investigations Department’s efforts to deter, detect and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud. We started Fraud Fridays in August 2013 and each week, we share news releases, videos, articles and other updates.

Not following us regularly yet? There are a variety of ways you can connect with us and receive updates:

Thanks for reading, and for following and liking and subscribing to our updates. We appreciate it! We hope to see you next Fraud Friday.

Categories: News Articles

Workplace security cameras reduce fraud, capture evidence

A person’s character may be best measured by how they act when they think no one is looking. BWC’s fraud investigators routinely find that criminals act as if no one is looking.

However, it is increasingly likely that many people are looking and recording actions. The number of installed and active security cameras has increased, capturing more surveillance video evidence 24/7. These cameras protect the safety and security of all – both law-abiding citizens and criminals alike – in public areas, at workplaces and in residences. It only takes one video clip to bring a criminal to justice. Such was recently the case with one our fraud subjects.

Last week, we reported that Glenn Jones of Cleveland faked a workplace injury that was captured on his employer’s security video. Jones can be seen stomping a hole in the wooden floor the night before he said he was injured. On the following day, he lowers his foot into the floor and lies down on the platform, feigning injury.

Jones claimed he suffered multiple significant injuries. As part of a thorough investigation, BWC’s fraud investigators reviewed the security video provided by the employer. The video evidence confirmed that the injury did not occur as Jones had reported, and that a false claim had been filed. Jones pleaded guilty to and was sentenced Sept. 30 in Cleveland Municipal Court on one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor.

As the security video shows, before lying down on the platform to complete his staged accident, Jones looked around. He apparently sought reassurance that he was not being observed by co-workers. Fortunately, he overlooked the security camera that was constantly observing him.

For more details pertaining to our fraud prevention efforts, view our Special Investigations Department fiscal year 2014 annual report.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.

Categories: Uncategorized

BWC investigations result in four workers’ comp fraud convictions in September

Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer announced today that four individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in September 2014. These court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID).

“Workers’ compensation fraud is far from a victimless crime,” Buehrer said. “Fraud affects employer premiums, which indirectly affects consumers. Our Special Investigations Department does a fine job of detecting and deterring workers’ compensation fraud to protect the State Insurance Fund and to keep employer premiums low.”

The following cases resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during September:

Michael Meekins (Akron, Summit County) pleaded guilty Sept. 19 in Summit County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. BWC’s Canton special investigations unit received an allegation that Meekins was a professional wrestler engaging in wrestling matches while receiving disability benefits for an injury. Investigators observed Meekins participating in highly physical wrestling matches. He concealed his wrestling activities from both BWC and his physician. He was sentenced to community control for one year and ordered to pay $1,111.60 in restitution to BWC.

Thomas Guardiola (Montpelier, Williams County) pleaded guilty Sept. 23 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. BWC received an allegation that Guardiola was working at a Montpelier hotel while collecting BWC disability benefits. Investigators found that he did so, while collecting $10,861.88 in temporary total disability between October 2012 and March 2013. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13.

Robert Parks, Jr. (Akron, Summit County) pleaded guilty Sept. 5 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fourth-degree felony. BWC received an internal allegation from the employer compliance department that Parks was operating a Summit County swimming pool installation business, ACP Ohio Inc., without BWC coverage. Investigators found that the business operated with employees since its workers’ compensation coverage had lapsed. Parks must pay $66,591.18 in restitution during his 18-month probation.

Todd Smith (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Sept. 25 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. SID received an allegation that Smith’s business, A T Xpress, made a dishonored payment. Agents obtained payroll records and found that the business was underreporting wages to BWC. Agents interviewed Smith, who advised them he reduced the reportable wages to BWC in order to give his business a premium discount for a not at fault claim, which was filed against the business. However, when asked to provide the method of discount used in calculating the premiums, Smith could not provide an answer. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 12.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov. Check out our latest cases on our fraud blog, ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com, follow Fraud Fridays on Twitter @OhioBWCFraud, or join in the conversation at www.facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud. View and share BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on our YouTube channel.

Claimant fraud: Is all the world a stage for actors?

In law enforcement circles, criminals are casually referred to as bad actors.

While onstage, actors need audiences and are motivated by applause. However, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s subjects pretend off stage, consider audiences optional and seek compensation, both as performers and as BWC claimants.

Two recent cases illustrate this point.

On the stage:

First, we had our musical impersonator, Ricky Gantz, of Elyria in Lorain County. An investigation by our Special Investigations Department and surveillance video revealed that Gantz played in a Beatles tribute band while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Investigators found Gantz continued sustained remunerative employment with Abbey Road between April 2012 and August 2013. The Industrial Commission of Ohio found Gantz was overpaid $13,277.24 in benefits. On the day of the hearing, Gantz’s attorney provided BWC with a check for the complete overpayment amount.

On May 9, Gantz pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. Gantz was fined $120 and ordered to pay court costs.

In the ring:

And there was wrestler Michael Meekins, of Akron in Summit County. Our investigation and surveillance video revealed that Meekins was a professional wrestler who engaged in wrestling matches while receiving temporary total disability benefits for a lumbar sprain to his back. Investigators witnessed Meekins while he participated in highly physical wrestling matches that included numerous blows to his injured back. A convincing actor outside of the ring, Meekins had concealed his wrestling activities and ability to work from the BWC and his treating physician.

On Sept. 19, Meekins pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. Meekins was sentenced to community control for one year and ordered to pay restitution to the BWC in the amount of $1,111.60.

When they were out, especially at medical appointments, our subjects pretended to be injured and unable to work. In this sense, while their behaviors are dishonest, their acting is apparently convincing. On a stage or inside a ring, however, they ceased pretending and demonstrated their full capacity to work.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.

Categories: News Articles

Cleveland man fakes workplace injury, employer discovers it on security video

Columbus – A Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) man was placed on probation for a year and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service for filing a false workers’ compensation claim against his employer. Glenn Jones pleaded guilty and was sentenced Sept. 30 in Cleveland Municipal Court on one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor.

The employer’s security video reveals that Mr. Jones stomped a hole in a wooden floor the night before he said he was injured and on the following day, lowered his foot into the floor and laid down on the platform.

“We’re pleased that the claim was dismissed before any benefits from the State Insurance Fund were paid out,” said Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “That fund is intended to care for workers who are truly injured.”

BWC’s fraud investigators began looking into the matter after receiving an allegation from the employer. They reviewed security video provided by the employer, and interviewed Jones and other employees. Jones had claimed he suffered a number of injuries, but the investigation and video evidence confirmed those injuries did not occur as Jones had reported, and that a false claim had been filed.

Jones was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended in lieu of probation and community service. If he violates probation or fails to perform community service, he will serve the jail sentence.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.

 

Intelligence unit identifies $29.5 million in fraudulent benefits received

Double-dippers of state benefits might double-dare the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s Special Investigations Department to catch them, and the department’s intelligence unit is up for the challenge.Fraud image for blog post 10-3-14

The IU, which reviews BWC data about claimants, medical providers and employers to uncover fraud on a daily basis, detected 1,072 fraud allegations, resulting in $29,512,151 in savings. These results were generated in the 12 months of fiscal year (FY) 2014 alone. In their spare time, members of the unit also completed 3,991 data requests from the SID’s special investigation units and analyzed case information. With the help of IU, SID was able to identify a total of $60.1 million in savings over the past year, according to statistics outlined in the SID FY 2014 annual report.

The IU served as the source of the allegation that resulted in the recent criminal conviction of Sandy Durieux. Durieux, of Stow (Summit County), who was convicted on Sept. 15 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas of workers’ compensation fraud, was ordered to pay $57,803.62 in restitution to BWC. Our SID investigation proved that Durieux was working as a licensed individual provider for the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities while receiving temporary total disability benefits and advising BWC she was unable to work at all.

We explained earlier this year how IU’s data analysis and detection efforts examine not only information provided to BWC, but also that of our external partners. The IU exchanges data with other state agencies to detect fraud.

For more articles from our blog, please visit ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com.

If you suspect workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292, visit bwc.ohio.gov, or visit facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud.

Any law enforcement or other criminal investigative agency interested in partnering with the SID should contact an IU criminal investigator at 614-752-4174.

Categories: News Articles
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