Home > News Articles > Claimant fraud: Is all the world a stage for actors?

Claimant fraud: Is all the world a stage for actors?

In law enforcement circles, criminals are casually referred to as bad actors.

While onstage, actors need audiences and are motivated by applause. However, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s subjects pretend off stage, consider audiences optional and seek compensation, both as performers and as BWC claimants.

Two recent cases illustrate this point.

On the stage:

First, we had our musical impersonator, Ricky Gantz, of Elyria in Lorain County. An investigation by our Special Investigations Department and surveillance video revealed that Gantz played in a Beatles tribute band while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Investigators found Gantz continued sustained remunerative employment with Abbey Road between April 2012 and August 2013. The Industrial Commission of Ohio found Gantz was overpaid $13,277.24 in benefits. On the day of the hearing, Gantz’s attorney provided BWC with a check for the complete overpayment amount.

On May 9, Gantz pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. Gantz was fined $120 and ordered to pay court costs.

In the ring:

And there was wrestler Michael Meekins, of Akron in Summit County. Our investigation and surveillance video revealed that Meekins was a professional wrestler who engaged in wrestling matches while receiving temporary total disability benefits for a lumbar sprain to his back. Investigators witnessed Meekins while he participated in highly physical wrestling matches that included numerous blows to his injured back. A convincing actor outside of the ring, Meekins had concealed his wrestling activities and ability to work from the BWC and his treating physician.

On Sept. 19, Meekins pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. Meekins was sentenced to community control for one year and ordered to pay restitution to the BWC in the amount of $1,111.60.

When they were out, especially at medical appointments, our subjects pretended to be injured and unable to work. In this sense, while their behaviors are dishonest, their acting is apparently convincing. On a stage or inside a ring, however, they ceased pretending and demonstrated their full capacity to work.

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

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