Archive

Archive for September, 2015

Shelby County maintenance man sentenced for workers’ comp fraud

Billy Schloss of Port Jefferson (Shelby County) pleaded guilty in the Shelby County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while collecting benefits for a workplace injury.

SID received an allegation and opened an investigation that revealed Schloss was working general maintenance for a company in Port Jefferson maintaining and fixing rental properties from February to June 2014 while collecting temporary total disability from the Ohio BWC.

Schloss was sentenced Sept. 1 to five years of community service and ordered to pay $6,762.59 in restitution.  If he violates his community control sanctions, he will be ordered to serve 180 days in the Shelby County Jail.

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Nelsonville man coached basketball, provided lawn care services while on workers’ comp

Brent Taylor booking photoA Nelsonville (Athens County) man pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. Brent Taylor was ordered by a judge in Franklin County to pay restitution of $30,000.

SID opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Taylor was engaged in work activity while he was receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation revealed Taylor knowingly engaged in work activities while receiving this benefit that does not permit a return to work. Specifically, the investigation confirmed he worked as a girls’ basketball coach and provided lawn care services while concealing his activities from BWC.

On Sept. 14, Taylor was placed on five years of community control and ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution, with $13,500 to be paid at the time of the plea, in addition to $1,750 in investigative costs.  Taylor submitted $13,500 to the Franklin County Clerk’s Office prior to his plea.

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

Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer announced today that nine individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in August 2015. These court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID).

“Any type of fraud takes dollars away from the State Insurance Fund, where employer premiums are deposited to care for Ohio injured workers,” said Buehrer. “Those who commit fraud wrongfully take from both employers that pay into the fund and injured workers who need assistance until they can return to work.”

The following is a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during August:

Charlene Porter (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Aug. 3 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to attempted workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation from an anonymous source indicating Porter was working for a church performing janitorial work while receiving benefits for a workplace injury.  The investigation found Porter was working during periods that she was receiving various benefits.  Additionally, the investigation found Porter intentionally misrepresented and withheld her employment from the BWC in order to continue those benefits. Porter was sentenced to 90 days in jail, suspended for two years of community control.  She was also ordered to pay $7,526 in restitution and $2,474 in investigative costs.

Thomas Blanton (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Aug. 5 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID’s Intelligence Unit identified Blanton as possibly working while receiving benefits from BWC through a cross match with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The investigation found Blanton knowingly and with fraudulent intent, worked for five different employers while he concurrently applied for and received temporary total disability benefits. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail, suspended if he pays $6,567 restitution, and was ordered to pay $1,000 in investigative costs.  Blanton was placed on two years of non-reporting probation and he has that time to pay the money he owes to BWC.

William Blasingim, dba Sunset Towing, (Toledo, Lucas County) pleaded no contest Aug. 19 to a second-degree misdemeanor count of failure to comply for operating his business with lapsed coverage. Blasingim, owner/operator of Sunset Towing, had been operating without workers’ compensation coverage and failed to reinstate his policy to bring his business into compliance with the law. Blasingim was successful in withholding from the BWC the amount of his premiums due during a time he was operating his towing business with lapsed coverage. Blasingim was ordered to pay a fine and court costs.

Charlotte Ellison (Cincinnati, Hamilton County) pleaded guilty Aug. 6 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a first-degree misdemeanor charge of workers’ compensation fraud for falsifying job searches. SID opened an investigation into Ellison after receiving an allegation from a BWC employee who suspected she was submitting false job searches in order to qualify for non-working wage loss disability benefits. Ellison was receiving non-working wage loss, which is payable to injured workers who are unable to find suitable employment   In order to qualify, the injured worker must demonstrate a good faith effort to secure employment within physical restrictions, and is required to submit job search forms indicating an active search for employment. Ellison submitted 63 pages with 154 in-person alleged job searches and 83 alleged online job searches, for a total of 237 job searches. All 65 job contacts interviewed indicated that Ellison never sought employment or submitted an application as she indicated to BWC. Prior to sentencing, Ellison paid all but $540.29 of the $3,896.93 she owed BWC. A judge ordered her to repay the remaining balance and sentenced her to ten days in jail, which will be suspended if restitution is paid in full by Feb. 6, 2016.

Richard Wey, dba North Shore Security Systems, (Twinsburg, Summit County) was sentenced Aug. 13 in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas on one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, for falsifying his certificate of coverage. An employee from an out-of-state company tipped off BWC that Wey presented what appeared to be a valid BWC certificate of premium payment, but BWC’s website indicated that the business had lapsed coverage. BWC provides employers with a certificate to prove they have current coverage. It is a crime to alter that certificate in order to make it appear coverage has been maintained. Fraud agents interviewed Wey, who would not admit to or deny altering the document. Wey was sentenced to eight months of incarceration, which was suspended, and two years of community control. He was ordered to pay $3,587.63 in restitution, plus court costs, and was ordered to not have any additional law violations.

Terrence O. Smith (Bedford, Cuyahoga County) was sentenced Aug. 26 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, for working while receiving benefits. SID received an internal allegation that Smith faxed records to BWC from a recycling business. Investigators found that Smith returned to work as a laborer for the recycling business while receiving wage loss not working benefits from May 2010 to January 2014. This type of benefit is reserved for claimants that are unable to find employment, and they must demonstrate that they’re trying to secure employment within their physical restrictions. Smith was ordered to pay $27,099.08 in restitution to BWC and was sentenced to five years of community control. If he fails to abide by the terms of his probation, he could face a year in jail.

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 and view BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on YouTube.

Bucyrus woman worked four jobs while receiving workers’ comp benefits

Columbus – A Bucyrus (Crawford County) woman has been ordered to repay more than $8,000 after she pleaded guilty to working multiple jobs while receiving benefits from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Debra Lawrence was sentenced in a Franklin County courtroom on Sept. 11.

debra“Ms. Lawrence demonstrated her ability to return to employment by working in multiple jobs while receiving benefits,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “She also took steps to conceal her work activity, resulting in approval of benefits she was not entitled to receive.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department’s Investigative Unit conducted a cross match with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services that showed Lawrence had received wages during a period of time she was also receiving temporary total disability benefits for a workplace injury.

A review of employment records and interviews confirmed Lawrence returned to work as a general laborer for several temporary agencies, and by her own admission, only stopped working because she started to receive her Social Security benefits.  She failed to disclose her employment for four employers and submitted the eight requests for temporary total disability from March to September 2013.

Lawrence pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers’ compensation Fraud (F5) on July 30 and was sentenced Sept. 11 to 12 months of prison, suspended for five years of community control. Terms of her community control include the repayment of $8,674.81 in restitution BWC and mental health counseling.

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, and see what workers’ compensation fraud looks like in our fraud awareness video on YouTube.

Columbus woman sentenced for workers’ comp fraud

Patrice Myers Booking PhotoPatrice Myers of Columbus (Franklin County) was ordered by a judge to repay BWC more than $7,500 after she pleaded guilty to fraud for working while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) began investigating after receiving an allegation that Myers was working at a pharmacy while receiving benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation found that Myers knowingly worked at the pharmacy while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Claimants are not permitted to work while receiving this type of benefit. SID obtained employment records that confirmed Myers was paid every two weeks and worked approximately 30 to 40 hours per week during the same time period she received the benefits.

Myers pleaded guilty Sept. 9 in a Franklin County courtroom to one first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud.  She was ordered to pay $7,566.24 in restitution to the BWC, and sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for five years of community control.  Myers has paid approximately $1,200 to the Franklin County Clerk’s Office as part of her restitution.

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Bedford man ordered to repay $27K in restitution for workers’ comp fraud

Terrance O. Smith, of Bedford in Cuyahoga County, was sentenced Aug. 26 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. He pleaded guilty to the charge in June.Terrance O. Smith 9-4-15

SID received an internal allegation that Smith faxed records to BWC from a recycling business. Investigators found that Smith returned to work as a laborer for the recycling business while receiving non-working wage loss benefits from May 2010 to January 2014. This type of benefit is reserved for claimants that are unable to find employment, and they must demonstrate that they’re trying to secure employment within their physical restrictions.

Smith was ordered to pay $27,099.08 in restitution to BWC and was sentenced to five years of community control. If he fails to abide by the terms of his probation, he could face a year in jail.