BWC’s Special Investigations Dept nets 7 convictions in June

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation netted seven convictions in June in criminal cases related to workers’ compensation fraud.

“Investigating and putting an end to fraud helps protect the benefits of injured workers and keep employers’ premiums down,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “That’s why BWC is so proactive in pursuing all employers, medical providers, workers and others who are suspected of committing fraud.”

Those convicted include child care center operators, skilled tradesmen and others who had lapsed policies, forged certificates of coverage or worked while receiving injured worker’s benefits.

As of June 30, BWC’s Special Investigations Department had secured 55 convictions this calendar year. June convictions include:

  • Walter Dappert, (Butler County) – The owner of Dappert Masonry Construction pleaded guilty June 8 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. Investigators found he had forged a BWC certificate of coverage to show he had active coverage when, in fact, the policy had lapsed in 2010. A judge sentenced Dappert to three years community control, 40 hours of community service and restitution to BWC in the amount of $1,507. Dappert brought his BWC policy into compliance prior to sentencing.
  • Terry Shaver (Franklin County) – The Grove City man pleaded guilty June 8 to one count of workers compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found him working for a pest control company while receiving injured worker’s benefits. A judge sentenced Shaver to 12 months probation and ordered him to pay $5,000 restitution to BWC by May 2017.
  • Karon Jones (Cuyahoga County) – The Cleveland-area child care center owner pleaded guilty June 13 in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to a first-degree misdemeanor count of Attempted Obstructing Official Business after investigators found her coverage had lapsed from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015. A judge ordered Jones to pay BWC $33,985 in restitution.
  • Tenora Edwards-Jones (Cuyahoga County) – The child care center owner pleaded guilty June 14 in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to one count of Failure to Comply with the Law, a second-degree misdemeanor. Edwards-Jones had lapsed coverage at two day care centers in Cleveland Heights. Prior to her sentencing, she paid BWC $28,514 to bring both policies current.
  • Angelique Braxton (Franklin County) – The home health aide pleaded guilty June 15 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after she was found working for 20 months while collecting BWC benefits. She paid BWC $1,902 for its investigation and $37,962 in restitution.
  • Gary Miller (Fairfield County) – The Columbus area painter pleaded guilty June 23 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found he had forged a BWC certificate of coverage after his policy had lapsed. A judge in Fairfield County Municipal Court sentenced Miller to two years probation and ordered him to pay $732 in fines and restitution.
  • Brian DuVernay (Allen County) – The Lima-area man, owner of A Better Way Contracting, pleaded guilty June 24 to one count of Failure to Comply, a second-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found he hadn’t submitted payroll reports, causing his BWC policy to lapse. The Lima Municipal Court fined DuVernay $150 and warned that he would be jailed and face additional charges if he did not come into full compliance with BWC.

Additionally, a Northwest Ohio woman entered into a Hardin County Diversion Program in June in lieu of conviction after investigators found she had altered several BWC certificates of coverage to make them look current after they had lapsed. Kathy S. Detwiler, owner of Detwiler Enterprises Inc., must participate in the program for one year, complete at least 160 hours of community service and abide by all regulations concerning BWC. Once completed, all charges will be dropped.

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

Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcblog.wordpress.com and view BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on YouTube.

BWC nets conviction after pizza chain owner doesn’t deliver

Mike Abro Booking Photo2The owner of several Happy’s Pizza stores in Northeast Ohio must serve a year probation and pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation $18,000 after failing to bring one of his BWC policies into compliance.

Mike G. Abro, 43, of Avon Lake, pleaded guilty July 6 in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to one second-degree misdemeanor count of Failure to Comply. As a condition of his probation, Abro was ordered to bring the policy into compliance with the law. Abro made a $15,000 payment in June, and must enter into a payment plan on his remaining balance of approximately $18,000.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) started looking at Abro in early 2014 after BWC staffers could not resolve a payment issue with Happy Pizza’s Michigan headquarters. Investigators subsequently discovered Abro owned six Happy’s Pizza locations in Cuyahoga, Lorain and Stark counties, and four policies had lapsed.

BWC worked with Abro to bring those policies current, but pressed charges earlier this year after Abro failed to become compliant at his East Cleveland location.

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

Cleveland health care worker convicted of workers’ comp fraud

CrystalMooreA Cleveland woman caught holding a regular job while receiving injured worker’s benefits must pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) a little more than $16,000 and serve five years probation.

Crystal Moore, 31, was sentenced June 28 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas after pleading guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud. The judge ordered her to pay the BWC $16,048 in monthly payments of at least $200. If Moore misses a payment, she must serve 30 days in jail.

The BWC Special Investigations Department found in early 2014 that Moore was working as a “patient services worker” for a health care company. Investigators subsequently discovered she was intentionally concealing her work activity and misrepresenting her physical activity to the BWC and her physicians so she could continue to receive BWC benefits.

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

Church secretary convicted of workers’ comp fraud

A Michigan woman has been sentenced to five years community control and ordered to pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation $8,600 in restitution after pleading guilty in April to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud.

Mischelle Bensch, 58, of Weston, Michigan, must make minimum monthly payments of $200 to BWC until she pays off the $8,617 she received in injured worker’s benefits while working as a church secretary in Michigan, a judge ruled June 23 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The judge also fined Bensch $500 and court costs and told her she would serve a year in prison if she violates the terms of her community control.

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Voc rehab provider sentenced on workers’ comp fraud

 

Business owner exaggerated claims, filed phony expenses

A northeast Ohio woman who runs a vocational rehabilitation services business must pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation nearly $56,000 as part of her sentence for committing workers’ compensation fraud.Kristina L. Russell, 36, of North Canton, also must serve five years of community control in lieu of a nine-month prison sentence, a judge ruled June 24 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. She must pay BWC $20,869.47 in restitution and $35,000 for the cost of the investigation.

“This case illustrates that we won’t tolerate fraudulent activity of any kind, not from workers, employers or health care providers,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “A workers’ compensation system that is robust, efficient and offered at fair rates depends on honesty and integrity on everyone’s part.”

Russell owns and operates two Stark County companies, Intensity Rehab LTD of Hartville, Ohio, and Emerald Empowerment Solutions of Uniontown, Ohio. The companies provide vocational rehabilitation and job placement services to injured workers. BWC’s Special Investigations Department started looking at Russell after BWC staffers noticed she consistently billed the maximum mileage (130 miles) and time allowed per claim that she submitted to BWC’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

Investigators found Russell also billed BWC for mileage, travel time and wait time she either did not incur or incurred on non-BWC clients. She also submitted false bills and treatment notes for her services.

When confronted, Russell admitted to BWC’s findings. She pleaded guilty May 1 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony.

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

Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcblog.wordpress.com and view BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on YouTube.

 

 

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Categories: Uncategorized

BWC nets 2 convictions of Cleveland day care operators

Cases show skipping BWC coverage a costly risk

In separate cases on back-to-back days, Ohio BWC netted two convictions of Cleveland-area day care center operators who refused to pay their workers’ compensation premiums until the BWC pressed criminal charges against them.

One owner must pay the BWC nearly $34,000 and serve one year probation, while the other owner has already paid the BWC nearly $30,000 to bring her centers into compliance.

“These business owners’ refusal to maintain coverage places them in a minority group of employers who seem to disregard the importance of ensuring their employees receive care if they are injured on the job,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “Identifying employers that don’t pay helps maintain a fair system that keeps all employers’ premiums as low and stable as possible.”

In the first case, Karon Jones, 45, of Solon, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of Attempted Obstructing Official Business, according to her June 13 sentence in the Cuyahoga County common pleas court. A judge ordered Jones to pay the BWC $33,985 in restitution to bring her policy current and imposed probation in lieu of a six-month jail sentence.

Jones’ policy for Norak Inc., dba Dynamic Creations, lapsed from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015. The BWC Employer Fraud Team (EFT) opened Jones’ case in August 2015 after the BWC Special Investigation Department identified the center and other child care facilities operating in Ohio without valid BWC coverage.

In the second case, Tenora M. Edwards-Jones, 47, of Richmond Heights, pleaded guilty June 14 in Cuyahoga County common pleas court to one count of Failure to Comply with the Law, a second-degree misdemeanor. Edwards-Jones had lapsed coverage at two day care centers in Cleveland Heights, Excell Early Learning Center and The Blue Room Ltd., dba Educare Development Center.

Prior to her sentencing, Edwards-Jones paid the BWC $28,514 to bring both policies current.

Grove City man worked for pest control company while on workers’ comp

Terry Shaver booking photoA Grove City man who was off work and collecting injured worker’s benefits from his employer now must pay his employer back after investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation discovered him secretly working another job.

Terry Shaver, 57, pleaded guilty June 8 in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. A judge ordered Shaver to pay his employer $5,000 in restitution and sentenced him to 180 days in jail. The judge suspended the jail sentence and sentenced Shaver to one year of community control.

Acting on a tip, the BWC’s Special Investigations Department began investigating Shaver last year and found him working as an independent contractor for a local pest control company. Investigators say Shaver “worked knowingly and with fraudulent intent and concealed his employment” from the BWC and his regular employer.

Court records show Shaver has paid his employer $2,023 in restitution to date.

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