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Archive for March, 2013

Cincinnati Enquirer analyzes impacts of heroin

March 27, 2013 2 comments

A recent four-day special report in The Cincinnati Enquirer examined the impacts of heroin. The first article explained two recent trends we’re facing, a spike in prescriptions for opioid painkillers and a dramatic increase in the supply of heroin, which is overwhelming law enforcement, medical authorities and social service agencies. 

We’re working hard to combat prescription fraud! Check out our annual report for details…Drug related complaints continue to top the charts.

Categories: News Articles

Elyria man must repay more than $12,000 for working while receiving benefits

March 26, 2013 1 comment

Jerry ArmstrongJerry E. Armstrong (Elyria, Lorain County) pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits for a prior workplace injury.

According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Special Investigations Department, an investigation found that Armstrong worked as an independent contractor for a cabinet manufacturer while receiving temporary total disability funds. An injured worker cannot work and receive temporary total disability payments.

Armstrong was indicted on two counts of workers’ compensation fraud and two counts of theft, and initially pleaded not guilty. He later pleaded guilty to a single charge of workers’ compensation fraud. As a result, the other three charges were dismissed. Armstrong was sentenced on March 22 to serve 10 months in jail, which was suspended for five years of community control. His community control terms include paying restitution to the BWC in the amount of $12,473.05.

Akron woman sentenced for workers’ comp fraud, owes $88,000

March 26, 2013 Leave a comment

COLUMBUS – An Akron (Summit County) woman was sentenced on multiple counts after agents with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) captured video of her running her own clothing store while receiving workers’ comp benefits for a prior workplace injury. Bernice D. Stephens was sentenced March 12 and must repay more than $88,000.

“Ms. Stephens was collecting benefits from the BWC, Social Security Disability and her previous employer,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “She’s been brought to justice and has been ordered to return a staggering amount of money she was never entitled to receive.”

The BWC’s Special Investigations Department opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Stephens, using the name Naomi Miller, owned and operated a clothing store in Akron. The department was also told she prepared income tax returns out of her home. Agents visited her store, called Devotice, and secretly videotaped as they purchased items from her. She told them she made African garments for weddings and events.

Stephens pleaded not guilty to charges of mail fraud, theft of public funds and false statement, but a jury found her guilty of all three on Dec. 13. She was sentenced to 10 months in jail followed by three years of supervised release. She must pay restitution to the BWC in the amount of $88,705.08, plus a special assessment of $300.

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

BWC investigations result in nine workers’ comp fraud convictions in February

March 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer today announced nine individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in February. 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.

“BWC strives to provide high-quality care to injured workers and financial stability for Ohio employers,” said Buehrer.  “To achieve these goals, we must take action against any endeavor to abuse the system.”

A sampling of the cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during February follows.

Andrew Fristoe (Friendship, Wisconsin) pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for inappropriately collecting death benefits. SID received information from a confidential source that Fristoe was erroneously reporting to BWC that he was a full-time college student in order to continue receiving death benefits. Children who lose a parent due to a workplace accident are eligible for dependent death benefits until age 25 if they are enrolled in college and provide proof of full-time enrollment.  Investigators obtained records from three colleges and registration patterns showed Fristoe would register for classes, provide the registration documentation to BWC to continue the benefits, and then later drop the classes.  On two occasions, Fristoe registered and dropped the classes on the same day, and still only provided the registered class forms to BWC.  Fristoe was extradited from a Wisconsin correction facility, where he was currently incarcerated.  He pleaded guilty in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and was sentenced to 10 months in prison to run concurrent with his prison term in Wisconsin.  He was also ordered to pay restitution of $14,501.63 and investigative costs of $498.37.  Fristoe paid the $15,000 restitution ordered at the plea hearing.

Mark Mefferd (Convoy, Van Wert County) pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits.  SID received an allegation from a BWC claims specialist indicating Mefferd may have returned to work for his business, Buckeye Landscaping while receiving disability benefits.  Investigators obtained evidence that Mefferd continued to operate his landscaping business spreading fertilizer, mulching, operating a weed eater, trimming trees and bushes, pulling weeds and planting flowers for numerous businesses in the Northwest Ohio area.  He was receiving temporary total disability, living maintenance, and non-working living maintenance benefits from BWC during this time.  Mefferd entered his guilty plea in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and will be sentenced April 19.

Jerry Armstrong (Elyria, Lorain County) pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received a tip from a BWC claims specialist after Armstrong allegedly stated he was working during a medical evaluation.  SID conducted interviews with the employer and Armstrong, and reviewed bank records.  The investigation found that Armstrong continued working for a cabinet contractor following his injury working as a carpenter for a home remodeling company. Armstrong is scheduled to be sentenced on March 22.

Teron Barnes (Dayton, Montgomery County) pleaded guilty Feb. 25 to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for filing a false claim.  Barnes filed a claim alleging he was injured at Winston Heating and Cooling in Dayton during an attempted robbery at the business. SID found that Barnes admitted to a Dayton police detective investigating the robbery that he fabricated the story so he could take time off work.  Barnes admitted that his injury was a result of a fight from a road rage incident.  The claim was denied. Barnes was sentenced in the Dayton Municipal Court to 90 days in jail suspended and a $100 fine.  The judge also placed Barnes on probation for one year and ordered 20 days of electronic home monitoring.  He was also ordered to repay BWC investigative costs for $1,111.57 and attend theft counseling.

Bruce VanSchoyck (Lima, Allen County) pleaded guilty Feb. 19 to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID initiated an investigation when an allegation was received that VanSchoyck may be working in Lima while collecting temporary total disability benefits.  Investigators found VanSchoyck worked for Buckeye Transcor/B&C Logistics hauling campers from Ohio to Tucker, Georgia and Lexington, North Carolina. A Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge ordered restitution of $2,944.84, which was paid in full by VanSchoyck at the plea hearing.

Richard Ketcham (Lima, Allen County) pleaded guilty Feb. 27 to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits.  SID received an allegation from a BWC employee that Ketcham may be running a photography business while receiving disability benefits.  Investigators found Ketcham was being paid to take team photos for various local club sports teams in the Lima area. Ketcham appeared in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and was placed on community control for three years and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $26,716.38.  If Ketcham violates the terms of community control, he will serve 7 months in a state prison.

Christopher Galloway (West Portsmouth, Scioto County) pleaded guilty Feb. 22 to one misdemeanor count of workers compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits.  SID received a tip and an investigation found Galloway was working as an independent truck driver while receiving temporary total disability benefits.  Galloway admitted to his work activity and cooperated with the investigation.  He received a suspended sentence of six months in jail and two years of community control.  As part of the community control, he must pay $1,812.18 in restitution, in addition to court costs.

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

Dayton physician ordered to repay more than $16,000 for workers’ comp fraud

March 26, 2013 Leave a comment

COLUMBUS – A Dayton (Greene County) physician who was banned from treating injured workers in 2009 pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud after he was caught using the information of another physician in order to receive reimbursement from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).  Eric Barker, D.C. was sentenced in a Franklin County courtroom March 5 and must repay more than $16,000.

“Ensuring our network of medical providers is providing professional, quality care for injured workers is the most important job we have at BWC,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “BWC determined it was in the best interest of injured workers to remove Dr. Barker from our network, but he attempted to get around his decertification by breaking the law.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Barker was inappropriately utilizing Health Insurance Claim Forms for the treatment of injured workers. 

Investigators learned the business, located at 1353 Woodman Drive, had been sold to Barker, who was decertified as a BWC provider in 2009 due to a felony conviction.  An analysis revealed BWC reimbursed approximately $8,000 to Teeters Chiropractic after that sale for chiropractic manipulation, evaluation and management and consultation services that were in fact rendered by Barker.  The bills were submitted using another assigned BWC provider number as a way of circumventing Barker’s exclusion from the workers’ compensation system.

SID and local law enforcement executed a search warrant at his residence and conducted interviews with Barker and his wife.  Barker confessed to treating injured workers and billing for the services after he was decertified by using another chiropractor’s provider number.

Eric Barker pleaded guilty to a felony count of workers’ compensation fraud.  Franklin County Judge Julie Lynch ordered him to pay $8,587.57 in restitution to BWC, in addition to and $8,000 for investigative costs. He was also sentenced to five years of community control, which will cease once he pays full restitution. He will serve a 12 month prison term if he violates these conditions.

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

Lima photographer ordered to repay more than $26,000 in workers’ comp benefits

March 26, 2013 Leave a comment

COLUMBUS – A Lima (Allen County) man was sentenced in Franklin County for operating a photography business from his home while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Richard D. Ketcham was sentenced this week and must repay more than $26,000 he improperly collected from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

“An investigation revealed that Mr. Ketcham was operating a photography business from his home while collecting disability funds,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer.  “His actions were a blatant disregard of the law and took funds that are reserved for injured workers unable to work.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department received an allegation that Ketcham made comments indicating he may be working while receiving disability from BWC. Investigators found that Ketcham earned profits from his photography business while collecting temporary total and living maintenance benefits.

Ketcham pleaded guilty Feb. 27 and was sentenced the same day in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Guy L. Reece II ordered Ketcham to pay restitution to BWC in the amount of $26,716.38. He also was placed on community control for three years. If he violates the terms of community control, he will serve seven months at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

Scioto County truck driver sentenced for workers’ comp fraud

March 26, 2013 Leave a comment

COLUMBUS – A West Portsmouth (Scioto County) man was sentenced in Franklin County for returning to work as a truck driver while receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a prior workplace injury. Christopher Galloway was sentenced last week and must repay close to $2,000 he improperly collected from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

“Mr. Galloway’s work as an independent truck driver was clearly a violation of the law,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “In addition to putting an end to fraud, it is essential that BWC ensure every employer dollar is used for its intended purpose: injured workers who are truly unable to work.”

Temporary total disability benefits are typically the first form of compensation awarded during injured workers’ recoveries from work-related injuries. Injured workers cannot work while receiving temporary total disability payments.

The Portsmouth Special Investigations Unit received an allegation that Galloway returned to work as a truck driver. Investigators found that Galloway was working as an independent semi truck driver. He admitted to the work activity and cooperated with the investigation.

Galloway pleaded guilty Feb. 22 and was sentenced the same day in the Franklin County Municipal Court. Judge Tyack ordered Galloway to pay restitution in the amount of $1812.18, in addition to a $290 for fees and court costs. He also received a sentence of six months in jail, which was suspended for two years of community control.

BWC investigations result in 12 workers’ comp fraud convictions in January

March 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer today announced 12 individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in January. 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.

“As several of our recent actions show, fraud can take many forms, including businesses that put their employees at risk by not complying with workers’ compensation law,” said Buehrer.  “These efforts not only protect employer premiums that are intended to support Ohio’s injured workers in their time of need, we believe talking publicly about these cases has a deterrent effect by showing our seriousness about putting an end to fraud.”

A sampling of the cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during January follows.

Chuck Longbrake, dba Longbrake Demolition, (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for altering his coverage certificate. SID received a tip from a client of Longbrake Demolition that claimed to have received a copy of a certificate from company owner Chuck Longbrake with questionable coverage dates. The source had contacted BWC to verify Longbrake Demolition’s BWC coverage and was advised the coverage was lapsed due to non-payment of premiums. The employer fraud team interviewed company owner Chuck Longbrake, who admitted to altering the certificate in an attempt to secure payment for a job the business completed.  Longbrake Demolition’s client required proof of BWC coverage before releasing payment for work.  BWC certificates include the name of the current BWC administrator, but the certificate in question contained the name of a past administrator who did not hold the office during the coverage dates listed on the altered certificate.  Longbrake was sentenced to 30 days jail, suspended if court costs are paid in full by July 1.  Prior to sentencing, Longbrake made a payment of $3,451.97 toward his balance of $15,590.59.

Randall and Linda Beach, DBA Beachy Cabinet (Plain City, Madison County) pleaded guilty to charges related to their failure to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage to protect their employees in the event of accidents or injuries.  SID began investigating after receiving a referral from the Ohio Department of Taxation that Beachy Cabinet Company, owned and operated by Linda and Randall Beachy, was operating a business without the required BWC coverage. The employer fraud team attempted to work with the pair on multiple occasions to bring them into compliance.  However, they still failed to make any payments or enter into a payment plan to reinstate the BWC policy.  On Jan. 3, Randall Beachy pleaded guilty to two felony counts of workers’ compensation fraud, and Linda Beachy pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of attempted workers’ compensation fraud.  Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21.

Alan Fosnight, DBA Colonial Rubber (Ravenna, Portage County) pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of failure to comply for allowing his workers’ compensation insurance policy to lapse. SID’s employer fraud team received an internal tip indicating Fosnight, owner of Colonial Rubber, continued to operate without the required BWC coverage.  BWC’s employer compliance department previously sent multiple compliance letters to Fosnight, and he acknowledged he was operating a business in violation of state law requiring coverage.  SID investigators also made several failed attempts to work with Fosnight in an effort to bring the business back into compliance.  Fosnight was ordered to pay court costs and was given a 90 day suspended jail sentence with the stipulation he come into compliance within a reasonable amount of time.  Prior to the plea deal, Fosnight paid approximately $9,900 towards his current balance of $126,283.21.  Additional actions will be pursued if he does not come into compliance within 90 days.

Bryan Primmer (Logan, Hocking County) pleaded guilty Jan. 24 to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits.  SID opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Primmer was working as a school bus driver for Logan Schools while receiving temporary total disability compensation.  Investigators were able to confirm Primmer was a bus driver while concurrently receiving compensation.  Primmer was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for a two-year period of community control.  He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,744.85 and investigative costs of $983.81, in addition to $50 for court costs.

Jorge Banegas (Canton, Stark County) was convicted of a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID’s intelligence unit performed a cross match with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services identifying that wages were reported to Jorge Banegas during the same time period he was receiving temporary total disability benefits. Investigators obtained employment records from two employers that verified Banegas was working while concurrently receiving those disability benefits.  Banegas later admitted to illegally working for both companies.  Banegas was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,195.15, and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended, and 18 months of community control.

Luis A. Toro (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud Jan. 16 for working while receiving benefits. SID received a tip on its fraud hotline alleging Toro was working as a tow truck driver in Cleveland while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. Agents conducted numerous surveillance and undercover operations and confirmed Toro continued to work as a self-employed tow truck driver in conflict with the rules associated with the workplace injury benefits he was receiving. Toro was sentenced in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and was ordered to pay $16,963.71 in restitution and $3,000 in investigative costs. Toro was also ordered to nine months incarceration, suspended for five years of community control. The surveillance video is available here.

Natalie Grubb (Medina, Medina County) pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to a misdemeanor count of complicity to commit workers’ compensation fraud for employing an injured worker she was representing in a workers’ compensation case.  SID opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that an injured worker was working for her attorney, Natalie Grubb, while receiving disability benefits following a workplace injury. Investigators found Grubb allowed an injured worker she was representing to work in her legal office as an assistant. The worker was receiving temporary total disability benefits after obtaining the legal services of Grubb in the case.  The two conspired to hide the work activity and earnings so the benefits would continue.  A statement obtained from the injured worker herself and interviews of former employees confirmed the injured worker’s employment with Grubb.  Grubb initially denied the allegations and provided a false statement to BWC but later pleaded guilty.  She paid $7,709.92 in restitution and $6,731.55 in investigative costs upfront, and an additional $500 fine imposed by the Franklin County Municipal Court. 

Jason Klein (Coshocton, Coshocton County) pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for operating his own business while he was supposed to be recovering from a workplace injury. BWC received a tip on its fraud hotline indicating Klein was selling equipment for natural gas pumps while he was supposed to be off work recovering from a workplace injury.  A second caller alleged Klein was operating his own business called KBI Services and was hauling water, plowing snow and performing natural gas conversions.  Agents’ review of bank records and interviews with witnesses confirmed that Klein knowingly owned and operated KBI Services during periods he received temporary total and living maintenance compensation.  Judge Pollitt in the Franklin County Municipal Court ordered him to repay $2,040 in restitution and court costs of $250.  He also received a ten day suspended jail sentence.

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