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Archive for April, 2014

Professional football player ordered to pay $31K for workers’ comp fraud

Kelvin KinneyFormer Columbus Destroyers player Kelvin Kinney, of Tampa, Florida, was sentenced April 18 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for working while receiving workplace injury benefits. He pleaded guilty and was convicted Feb. 25 of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony.

An investigation began after a cross-match with the Florida Department of Revenue revealed that wages were reported for Kinney during the same time period he received BWC benefits. He was employed as a football player for the Columbus Destroyers when originally injured in 2008. BWC investigators found that Kinney returned to work in the Arena Football League, playing professional football for the Tampa Bay Storm and the Dallas Vigilantes. He fraudulently collected living maintenance, non-working wage loss and temporary total disability benefits from BWC while playing as a defensive lineman for both teams.

Kinney was sentenced to serve 12 months of incarceration, which was suspended for three years of community control. Conditions of his community control include paying $31,359.80 in restitution and investigative costs to BWC and to complete 100 hours of community service. If he fails to comply with the conditions of community control, Kinney will serve 12 months of incarceration.

 

South Euclid woman ordered to repay $32K in workers’ comp benefits

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAColumbus – A South Euclid (Cuyahoga County) woman was ordered to repay more than $32,000 in connection with working while collecting workplace injury benefits. Laura Brown pleaded guilty April 9 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony.

“Ms. Brown’s employment was discovered through a cross-match report from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “We partner with other agencies and with the general public, and request that anyone who suspects workers’ compensation fraud contact us. Your tips are anonymous, and they assist us in our ongoing efforts to protect the State Insurance Fund.”

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) received the cross-match report, which indicated that wages were reported for Brown in 2011 and 2012. Interviews and employment records enabled the SIU to confirm that Brown returned to work as a home health aide while receiving temporary total disability and living maintenance benefits.

Brown was ordered to repay $32,928.05 in restitution to the BWC. She was sentenced to serve 11 months in prison, which was suspended for five years of community control. If she violates the terms of community control, Brown will serve that time in prison.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov. Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com, follow Fraud Fridays on Twitter @OhioBWCFraud, or join in the conversation at facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud. View and share BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on our YouTube channel.

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Electronic surveillance tools, trends discussed at symposium

eses14

Hundreds of law enforcement professionals from around Ohio and the U.S. gathered yesterday in Columbus for the first Electronic Surveillance and Equipment Symposium. These investigative agencies came together to discuss the latest electronic surveillance tools and trends.

The event was co-sponsored by BWC’s Special Investigations Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information presented, the event was restricted to personnel from government and public law enforcement agencies.

Leading experts in the field presented information about cell phone tracking equipment, concealing cameras in everyday items, surveillance techniques and legal issues regarding electronic surveillance. More than two dozen vendors and law enforcement exhibitors were on hand for a trade fair as well.

ESES14 picture2Effective surveillance plays an important role in law enforcement and criminal investigations. This event provided a secure environment in which law enforcement professionals shared best practices and advice in hopes of strengthening our efforts to contribute to safer communities.

Thank you to all who participated in and made ESES14 a success!

Follow BWC’s Special Investigations Department on Twitter @OhioBWCFraud and on Facebook at facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud to stay up-to-date on our continuing efforts to detect, deter, investigate and prosecute all types of workers’ compensation fraud in Ohio.

Categories: SID Information

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

Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer today announced that seven individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in March 2014. 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.

“Our agents conduct surveillance and perform investigations as part of our ongoing efforts to put an end to fraudulent activity,” Buehrer said. “We also actively discuss workers’ compensation fraud to shed light on the issue and make potential fraudsters think twice before they attempt to steal from the State Insurance Fund.”
The following case information represents a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during March.

Regina Whitman (Mentor, Lake County) pleaded guilty March 19 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, in connection with falsified wages. The Northeast Special Investigations Unit (SIU) received an allegation that she and her husband, Russell Whitman, had been arrested and charged with felony theft and were suspected of embezzling a large amount of money from the family business. Russell Whitman was receiving BWC benefits. The SIU found that Regina Whitman, the payroll manager for the family business, submitted false payroll records to BWC on behalf of her husband. While in jail in 2011 for the embezzlement charges, the couple conspired to conceal his incarceration from the BWC and to submit false documents to the BWC, so he would continue to receive benefits. Investigators reviewed telephone conversations between Russell and Regina while they were incarcerated and identified their conspiracy to commit fraud against BWC. As a result of this scheme, BWC overpaid Russell $3,287.47 in benefits. Regina Whitman was sentenced to six months of incarceration to run concurrent with her four-year sentence related to her part in the embezzlement of more than $285,000 from her family business.

Joseph Stapleton (Dayton, Montgomery County) pleaded guilty March 19 to falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor. In September 2013, Stapleton filed a claim, alleging he was assaulted by a hotel patron while working. A police report was obtained by SID indicating Stapleton was not involved in the incident with the patron and was not injured at work. Agents interviewed witnesses and confirmed that Stapleton was never involved in the altercation, and had no contact with the patron. Stapleton has been referred to the probation department and sentencing is scheduled for May 6.

David Becker (Germantown, Montgomery County) pleaded guilty March 24 to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, for working while receiving workplace injury benefits. SID received an allegation that Becker was operating a business from his home. Investigators found that Becker was operating an online tractor supply business from his home between October 2005 and June 2007 while collecting temporary total disability. During court, Becker paid $45,582.54 in restitution and investigative costs.

Dale Richards (Grove City, Franklin County) pleaded guilty March 12 to workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, for working while receiving workplace injury benefits. The Columbus SIU received an allegation that Richards was working while receiving BWC benefits. The investigation revealed that Richards was involved in construction and remodeling projects as well as selling scrap metal. Richards was ordered to pay $30,381.48 in restitution to the BWC. He was also sentenced to serve eight months at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which was suspended for three years of community control, as long as he doesn’t violate probation rules and pays restitution.

Christopher Steele (Reynoldsburg, Licking County) pleaded guilty March 5 to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. The Columbus SIU received an allegation that Steele was working while receiving BWC benefits. Steele was receiving both Living Maintenance (LM) and Working Wage Loss (WWL) benefits. Injured workers receiving LM are prohibited from working, while those receiving WWL are permitted to work, but must report earnings to determine benefit levels. The SIU obtained employment and payroll records, and confirmed that Steele worked as a carpenter and construction worker while receiving the LM compensation, and he didn’t report any earnings, resulting in a higher level of WWL benefits than he was entitled to receive. He was ordered to pay $7,680.54 in restitution by March 31, 2016. He was given 60 days in jail, which was suspended on the condition that he pay restitution in full. If he fails to do so, he will serve 60 days in the Franklin County Jail. All fines were waived and Steele was ordered to pay court costs. He made a $2,500 restitution payment after the hearing.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov. Check out our latest cases on our fraud blog, ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com, follow Fraud Fridays on Twitter @OhioBWCFraud, or join in the conversation at www.facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud. View and share BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on our YouTube channel.

Hocking County man ordered to pay $103K in restitution

Lonnie Mace, of New Plymouth (Hocking County), was sentenced April 3 for working while receiving workplace injury benefits. This follows his Feb. 26 guilty plea to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

An allegation was made following a cross match with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Investigators learned that Mace was receiving permanent total disability benefits while employed as a commercial vehicle driver during a 2010 safety inspection. They found that Mace was employed by a trucking company prior to and while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Mace’s benefits were terminated and a lump sum advancement of his benefits was declared overpaid, totaling $103,174.34 due to BWC.

Mace was ordered to pay that amount in restitution to the BWC. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, which was suspended, and placed on community control for five years. If he violates the terms of community control, he will serve 12 months in jail.

Cleveland man pleads guilty to workers’ comp fraud, repays nearly $9K in restitution

David MorinelloDavid Morinello, of Cleveland (Cuyahoga County), pleaded guilty April 2 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. He provided the court with a cashier’s check for $8,898.09, the entire amount of restitution.

A confidential source contacted BWC’s Northeast Regional Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to report that Morinello was working while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Injured workers are not permitted to work while receiving this type of benefit. The SIU obtained documented evidence to support the allegation, and determined that Morinello worked for an outdoor lighting business as well as his own outdoor lighting and design business while receiving temporary total benefits.

Morinello was fined $100 and ordered to pay court costs by June 20. He will be placed on probation if he does not pay.