Home > Press Releases & Case Information > BWC investigations result in five workers’ comp fraud convictions in July

BWC investigations result in five workers’ comp fraud convictions in July

Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer today announced five individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system during July. The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s special investigations department (SID). The department works to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud.

“There can be no place for deception in a system helping injured workers recover and return to work at the lowest possible cost to employers,” said Buehrer. “Attacking fraud protects Ohio’s workers’ comp system and keeps employers’ premiums directed appropriately to assisting injured workers.”

A summary of the cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during July follows.

Doug Caldwell (Springboro, Warren County) pleaded guilty July 20 in the Warren County Court of Common Pleas Court to two counts of deception to obtain a dangerous drug, both fourth degree felonies.  SID’s intelligence unit identified a high amount of prescribed narcotics from multiple prescribing physicians being issued to the Caldwell.  Investigators found Caldwell was simultaneously visiting two physicians to obtain duplicate prescriptions for the same narcotic.  Neither physician was aware that Caldwell was obtaining similar narcotics from the other.  Caldwell had signed and agreed to a pain management contract under both physicians certifying that he would only obtain pain medication from one physician. Caldwell was placed on three years of probation and has agreed to treatment in lieu of a conviction through the Warren County probation department.  He will be sent to prison if he violates the agreement.  Caldwell was also sentenced to repay BWC $1,225.25 for the cost of the medication he obtained and the cost of the investigation.

Michael Johnson (Lima, Allen County) pleaded no contest July 25 in Lima Municipal Court to a misdemeanor count of falsification for filing a false claim. A BWC claims service specialist made a referral to the SID indicating there were conflicting stories by Johnson as to whether he was actually injured at work. Investigators obtained evidence showing Johnson had conflicting stories for both the employer and medical centers.  Eyewitnesses who worked with Johnson on the day of the injury indicated that they never witnessed his injury as he reported.  Johnson was already serving a jail term in Lima for cocaine and opiate abuse in violation of his probation.  He was sentenced to 30 additional days in jail and must pay court costs.

Christ Yanacos (Mentor, Lake County) pleaded guilty July 24 to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits.  SID’s intelligence unit identified Yanacos as possibly working as a result of a cross match with Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that showed he was the subject of a safety inspection in October 2010 while operating a commercial vehicle.  Investigators found Yanacos returned to employment as a part-time independent truck driver with MARS Trucking Inc. after he began receiving Permanent Total Disability benefits as a result of a workplace injury.  Yanacos was delivering cargo to local customers on behalf of MARS Trucking Inc. Yanacos was sentenced to 11 months incarceration, suspended for five years of community control.  The terms of community control include restitution in the amount of $109,244.71.

Patricia Perry (Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty July 17 to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation that Perry was working as a licensed provider with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD).  The investigation found Perry was a licensed and certified provider with both the DODD and the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities.  Perry provided care and services to developmentally disabled individuals during the same time periods she claimed to be disabled and unable to work.  Perry admitted to working while receiving various disability benefits and verified that she concealed her employment activities.  Perry pleaded guilty in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.  She is scheduled to be sentenced on August 22.

Renee Washington (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty July 18 to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) began investigating after receiving a cross match from the Department of Job and Family Services indicating Washington was paid wages by A-1 Health Care and Concordia Care. Investigators found Washington continued employment as a part-time home health aide with A-1 Nursing Care while receiving Temporary Total Disability and Living Maintenance benefits.  Washington admitted to her work activity and cooperated with the investigation. The Ohio Industrial Commission issued a finding of fraud in February and Washington appeared in a Franklin County courtroom July 18.  She pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud and was sentenced to five years community control.  She also must pay $16,202.79 in restitution.

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

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