Ohio woman sentenced for colluding with claimant who alleged he was totally disabled

A Spencerville (Lima County) woman has been sentenced for colluding to commit workers’ comp fraud with an acquaintance who was sentenced for fraud last year. Angela Pugin pleaded guilty to a felony count of complicity to commit workers’ compensation fraud on April 18 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) began investigating Pugin after receiving an allegation that a claimant, Douglas Roop, may have been working while receiving permanent total disability benefits he was awarded following a workplace injury.  Roop had filed for a settlement and noted that his brother-in-law owned a business and he was interested in working for him.

SID and the Lima Police Department executed a search warrant at D&G Development and Restoration/1-800 BOARD UP in Lima and obtained evidence proving that Roop had returned to work while collecting the benefits.

The investigation proved that Roop had been working for his brother-in-law, Darrell Pugin, who owned and operated the company. Angela Pugin, Darrell’s wife, also worked at D&G Development and 1-800-BOARD UP as the office manager. Evidence from the search warrant showed that she was paying Roop cash for work done at D&G while Roop was receiving benefits from the BWC.

Pugin paid $5,000 for investigative costs prior to her sentencing. She was also ordered to pay court costs.

Douglas Roop was sentenced on June 1, 2015 and ordered to pay restitution to BWC totaling more than $20,000. Read more about his case here.

Mansfield man ordered to repay nearly $1,700 in workers’ comp benefits

Bulakovski photoA Mansfield man has been ordered to repay the BWC nearly $1,700 in injured workers’ benefits he received while working concurrently in the insurance industry. James Bulakovski, 40, was sentenced April 27 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Acting on a tip, the BWC’s Northeast Regional Special Investigations Unit (SIU) found Bulakovski working as an independent insurance agent for a life insurance company while recovering from a finger laceration and receiving BWC benefits from April 28, 2014 through Aug. 1 that same year.

Bulakovski pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a misdemeanor of the first degree. A judge ordered him to pay $1,674 in restitution to the BWC and sentenced him to 180 days in jail, suspended for one year of community control.

Columbus woman will repay $12,000 in ill-gotten workers’ comp benefits

A Columbus (Franklin County) woman has been ordered to repay more than $12,000 to BWC after investigators found she was working while receiving workers’ comp benefits. Susan Meaney was sentenced in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on April 15.

SID’s Intelligence Unit found during a database cross-match with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Service that Meaney earned wages from The Kroger Company during the period she also collected temporary total disability benefits from BWC.

SID collected employment records from The Kroger Company that confirmed Meaney worked and receive wages during the same time period she was supposed to be recovering from a workplace injury and was restricted from working. Further, the evidence obtained during the course of the investigation revealed Meaney intentionally misrepresented and withheld her employment in order to continue receiving the benefits.

Susan Meaney pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud and was sentenced to ten months of incarceration, suspended for three years of community control.  She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,718.74.

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Columbus man guilty of fraud, ordered to repay $5,000

 

Keith Mitchell of Columbus (Franklin County) was sentenced in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas this week following a BWC investigation that found he worked while receiving workers’ comp benefits.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department received an allegation that Mitchell was working for a packaging company. The investigation confirmed Mitchell was employed with Adecco and worked at Victory Packaging during periods in which he received BWC disability benefits. Evidence obtained during the investigation revealed that Mitchell intentionally misrepresented and withheld his employment in order to continue collecting the benefits.

Mitchell pleaded guilty April 12 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a misdemeanor of the first degree.  He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for two years of community control.  He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,147.37.

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

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 March 2016. These court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID).

“I’m pleased these claimants are now on the hook for repayment and will not continue receiving undeserved compensation,” said Buehrer. “We encourage Ohioans to contact us when they suspect fraud. Our agents look into every allegation as part of their ongoing work to put an end to fraud and deter future scams against Ohio’s injured workers and businesses.”

The following are a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during March

Kevin Gruver (Elyria, Lorain County) pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas March 16 for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating Gruver after receiving an allegation indicating he had returned to work with Adecco while collecting benefits for a workplace injury. Investigators found that Gruver did return to work with Adecco and worked as a temporary employee for multiple companies, including Leggett & Platt, Wal-Mart, Pontoon First Energy Fieldglass, and 3M. This employment activity was inconsistent with Gruver’s receipt of temporary total disability benefits. Gruver was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for two years of community control under the conditions that he maintain employment and pay restitution in the amount of $6,959.65.

Charles Bentley (Mentor, Lake County) pleaded guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on March 10 for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating after receiving an anonymous allegation stating Bentley had been working “under the table” for a landscaping company for three years. Bentley should not have been working at all as he was receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation confirmed that Bentley returned to employment during the winter season as a snowplow truck driver while receiving temporary total disability benefits.  Bentley had already paid the entire restitution in the amount of $22,125.60 to BWC.  He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, suspended for 90 days of community control.

Amato Zaccone Jr. (Hubbard, Trumbull County) pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas March 10 for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating Zaccone after a wage cross-match with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services indicated he was working during the same time period he was receiving BWC benefits for a workplace injury. Investigators conducted field interviews and obtained financial records that confirmed Zaccone was working as a cook for McMenamy’s, LLC while receiving Temporary Total Disability. Zaccone was sentenced to 90 days in jail, suspended for one year of community control on the condition that he pay restitution in the amount of $1,045.20.

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.

Elyria man worked for multiple companies while on workers’ comp

Kevin GruverAn Elyria (Lorain County) man must repay more than $20,000 after he was caught working for multiple companies while receiving workplace injury benefits. SID began investigating Kevin Gruver after receiving an allegation indicating he had returned to work with Adecco while collecting benefits for a workplace injury.

Investigators found that Gruver did return to work with Adecco and worked as a temporary employee for multiple companies, including Leggett & Platt, Wal-Mart, Pontoon First Energy Fieldglass, and 3M. This employment activity was inconsistent with Gruver’s receipt of temporary total disability benefits.

Gruver appeared in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas March 16 and pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for two years of community control under the conditions that he maintain employment and pay restitution in the amount of $6,959.65.

Youngstown woman owes $94K after pleading guilty to workers’ comp fraud

YOUNGSTOWN – A Youngstown (Mahoning County) woman has been ordered to repay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) nearly $94,000 in workplace injury benefits she collected illegally. Zelma Forro pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas.

“Ms. Forro was able to collect a substantial amount of money while claiming to be permanently disabled and knowingly working in violation of the law,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “Fortunately, an anonymous tip helped our investigators put a stop to her deceit and these dollars will be returned to the State Insurance Fund to assist injured workers who are truly unable to return to work.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department began investigating Forro after receiving an allegation from a confidential source who reported she was working for Home Savings and Loan bank during the same period of time she was on permanent total disability following a workplace injury. The source reported that Forro was working in the capacity of an independent contractor for this business, rather than a direct bank employee.

BWC investigators obtained documented evidence supporting the allegation that Forro was employed as an independent contractor for Home Savings and Loan bank. Forro was assessing distressed properties, completing property inspections, evaluating the general condition and obtaining the current photographs of such properties. Investigators relied on financial records, surveillance operations, and field interviews to substantiate this allegation.

Zelma Forro pleaded guilty Jan. 29 to a fourth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud.  She was sentenced March 11 to eighteen months in jail, suspended for three years of community control under the condition that she pay restitution totaling $93,912.24.

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

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