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Archive for January, 2012

Austintown DJ Faces the Music for Workers’ Comp Fraud

January 19, 2012 1 comment

COLUMBUS – An Austintown (Mahoning County) man was sentenced last week for workers’ comp fraud after Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) investigators caught him on video entertaining partygoers and bar patrons as a disc jockey. Randall Schornack pleaded guilty and must repay more than $27,000 he collected illegally while receiving benefits for a workplace injury.

“As is so often the case, Mr. Schornack continued to maintain his injury to BWC and his treating physicians even as he was simultaneously working in clear violation of the law,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer. “Area music lovers may have enjoyed his services, but this type of deceitful behavior is not at all amusing to employers who prefer their premiums go toward treating those who are truly unable to work.”

BWC’s Special Investigation Department (SID) received an anonymous tip on the fraud hotline that Schornack was working as a disc jockey at area bars under the name “DJ Randy Stevens.” SID’s investigation determined that Schornack was working as a DJ for several bars in Mayfield and also for a professional DJ service in Girard while receiving temporary total disability benefits.  The SID obtained video of Schornack unloading and carrying speakers and other equipment from his vehicle into different establishments on a weekly basis and performing work services as a DJ.

Schornack was sentenced in a Franklin County courtroom Jan. 10 and the judge ordered him to pay $27,202.62 in restitution He was also sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for five years of community control.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-OHIOBWC, visit ohiobwc.com, or visit www.facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud.

Surveillance video is available here.

https://www.ohiobwc.com/home/current/releases/2012/011912.asp

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BWC Investigations Result in Three Workers’ Comp Fraud Convictions in December

January 13, 2012 1 comment

Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer today announced three individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system during the month of December. The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID), which works to deter, detect, investigate, and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud.

“Three more convictions round out 2011, a year during which BWC made great progress in demonstrating the seriousness of workers’ comp fraud and our willingness to pursue these crimes, making potential wrongdoers think twice about the consequences,” said Buehrer. “We look forward to pursuing fraud with equal vigor in 2012.”

Following are summaries of cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during the month of December.

Kelly Smith (Piketown, Pike County) was found guilty Dec. 16 in the Chillicothe Municipal Court of workers’ compensation fraud for filing a false claim.  SID received an allegation from an employer that Smith filed a claim against their policy for a workplace injury although she had never worked for the company.  Smith was unable to produce any documentation to prove he was an employee; therefore, the claim was denied. Investigators confirmed Smith was not an employee and had filed a false claim. Smith pleaded no contest and was given a $250 fine, one year of community control and 35 hours of community service.

William Hill Booking PhotoWilliam Hill (Chesterland, Geauga County) pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to a felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. Hill became the subject of an investigation after a BWC claims service specialist suspected he may be working for his own company while receiving temporary total disability benefits. An investigation verified the Chesterland man was operating Hill’s Contracting Company for three years in direct conflict with his disability benefits. Hill was ordered in a Franklin County Municipal Court to pay $131,919.43 in restitution and an additional $2,000 for investigative costs.  He was also sentenced to five years of community control.  As part of the agreement, Hill is ordered to pay $100 per month. If Hill does not comply with probation or make the required monthly payments, he will serve six months in prison.

Kenneth McElroy (Chardon, Geauga County) was sentenced Dec. 14 after pleading guilty to a felony count of theft for working while receiving benefits. SID opened an investigation into McElroy after learning he was self employed snow plowing and repairing lawn mower/landscape and construction equipment while receiving temporary total disability benefits.  SID conducted numerous interviews confirming he was performing these services at his home and at customer’s residences.   The Ohio Industrial Commission issued an order in October finding all benefits McElroy received for the period of more than five years had been overpaid.  Additionally, his benefits were terminated due to a finding of fraud.  A Franklin County judge ordered McElroy to pay $80,000 in restitution and sentenced him to five years of community control and a suspended a six month prison sentence.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-OHIOBWC, visit ohiobwc.com, or visit www.facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud.

https://www.ohiobwc.com/home/current/releases/2012/011312.asp

Pharmacist Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Illegal Distribution of Oxycodone, Structuring and Filing False Income Tax Return

On January 9, 2012, the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Ohio, issued the following press release:

‘Harold Eugene Fletcher, 43, owner of the East Main Street Pharmacy in Columbus, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 24 months in prison for illegally distributing the painkiller oxycodone, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, and filing false income tax returns for five years.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Darryl Williams, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.

Fletcher was also sentenced to spend five years under court supervision after he completes his prison term. He will spend the first year of supervised release on home confinement and perform 208 hours of community service during the second year.

The sentence includes a $75,000 fine and restitution of $275,000 to the IRS. He is also required to cooperate with the IRS to file any corrected income tax returns for 2005 through 2009. His sentence includes a lifetime ban on practicing as a pharmacist or having any connection with a pharmacy or the distribution of drugs.

Fletcher owned and operated the East Main Street Pharmacy at 1336 East Main Street in Columbus. He pleaded guilty on January 11, 2011.

Fletcher is the first pharmacist convicted and sentenced to prison in the Southern District of Ohio for the illegal distribution of drugs.

According to a statement of facts read during the plea hearing, Fletcher distributed oxycodone outside the usual course of professional practice and without any legitimate medical purpose in February 2006. Fletcher also structured bank deposits of more than $100,000 by breaking the cash amounts into deposits of less than $10,000 each in an attempt to evade federal reporting requirements regarding cash deposits. Fletcher also admitted to filing false federal income tax returns for five years.

“We will continue to prosecute those involved in the illegal distribution of prescription drugs,” Stewart said. “This should send a message of deterrence to any licensed medical professional or others involved in such actions.”

Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by IRS and DEA agents and diversion investigators, along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Marous and David J. Bosley, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Tammaro with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Segev Phillips, who prosecuted the case.’

For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Ohio, see http://www.justice.gov/usao/ohs/.

For information about the BWC Special Investigations Department be sure to read our SID FY 2011 Annual Report.

If you suspect anyone is committing workers’ compensation fraud in Ohio, let us know. You may report it online at http://bit.ly/reportfraud or you may speak with a fraud hotline agent by calling 1-800-OHIOBWC.

Hannah News reported: “State Secures First Pill Mill Conviction of 2012”

On January 6, 2012, Hannah News reported as follows:

‘Another Ohio pill mill has fallen to a multi-agency initiative launched by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Ohio Pharmacy Board and State Medical Board, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the Regional Agencies Narcotics & Gun Enforcement Task Force (R.A.N.G.E.), as well as local and federal authorities. Dr. Han M. Yang is the latest conviction, pleading guilty Thursday to eight felony counts.

Yang, 69, could get 17 years in jail and $80,000 in fines for his trouble. That would add to $100,000 in drug profits he has already surrendered.

State, local and federal officers raided his Dayton and Bethel Township offices in Montgomery and neighboring Clark counties in October as part of a year-long investigation into prescription drug abuse, medical fraud, and money laundering. (See The Hannah Report, 10/3/11.) Authorities found would-be customers lined up outside for quick prescriptions, though facilities were largely bereft of exam tables and other equipment needed for legitimate medical services. Undercover agents previously witnessed Yang writing prescriptions within minutes of a patient’s arrival, and with no examination.

Formerly affiliated with Good Samaritan Hospital and Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Yang was since charged with six counts of trafficking in prescription drugs, including five fourth-degree felonies and one fifth-degree felony; one second degree count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity; and one fourth-degree count of theft by deception involving health care fraud. Clark County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard O’Neill accepted Yang’s guilty plea Thursday.

“We are committed to driving pill mills, and their trail of suffering and death, out of Ohio,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement. “More work remains, but rest assured we will continue the fight.”

In addition to state and federal officials, the investigation involved Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, Clark County Prosecutor Andrew Wilson, and Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck. A local pharmacist had alerted authorities in October 2010 after a woman nine months pregnant showed up with a prescription written by Yang for powerful painkillers.

DeWine said sentencing will be announced later, but indicated Yang faces penalties ranging up to 18 years in prison and fines up to $77,500.

The arrest and conviction follows at least four convictions, investigations and/or license revocations involving Ohio physicians in 2011, including Dr. James Lundeen, Dr. Victor Georgescu, Dr. George D.J. Griffin, and a fourth doctor who colluded in a prescription drug scheme with former Cincinnati attorney Kenneth Lawson, who was stripped of his law license in September. (See The Hannah Report, 4/5/11, 9/20/11, 12/15/11, 12/20/11.)

The governor, state Legislature and DeWine launched the coordinated offensive against pill mills and over-prescribing doctors in early 2011. (See The Hannah Report, 2/8/11, 2/9/11, 2/21/11.)’

For more information about the BWC Special Investigations Department be sure to read our SID FY 2011 Annual Report.

If you suspect anyone is committing workers’ compensation fraud, let us know. You may report it online at http://bit.ly/reportfraud or you may speak with a fraud hotline agent by calling 1-800-OHIOBWC.