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Archive for June, 2016

BWC nets 2 convictions of Cleveland day care operators

Cases show skipping BWC coverage a costly risk

In separate cases on back-to-back days, Ohio BWC netted two convictions of Cleveland-area day care center operators who refused to pay their workers’ compensation premiums until the BWC pressed criminal charges against them.

One owner must pay the BWC nearly $34,000 and serve one year probation, while the other owner has already paid the BWC nearly $30,000 to bring her centers into compliance.

“These business owners’ refusal to maintain coverage places them in a minority group of employers who seem to disregard the importance of ensuring their employees receive care if they are injured on the job,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “Identifying employers that don’t pay helps maintain a fair system that keeps all employers’ premiums as low and stable as possible.”

In the first case, Karon Jones, 45, of Solon, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of Attempted Obstructing Official Business, according to her June 13 sentence in the Cuyahoga County common pleas court. A judge ordered Jones to pay the BWC $33,985 in restitution to bring her policy current and imposed probation in lieu of a six-month jail sentence.

Jones’ policy for Norak Inc., dba Dynamic Creations, lapsed from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015. The BWC Employer Fraud Team (EFT) opened Jones’ case in August 2015 after the BWC Special Investigation Department identified the center and other child care facilities operating in Ohio without valid BWC coverage.

In the second case, Tenora M. Edwards-Jones, 47, of Richmond Heights, pleaded guilty June 14 in Cuyahoga County common pleas court to one count of Failure to Comply with the Law, a second-degree misdemeanor. Edwards-Jones had lapsed coverage at two day care centers in Cleveland Heights, Excell Early Learning Center and The Blue Room Ltd., dba Educare Development Center.

Prior to her sentencing, Edwards-Jones paid the BWC $28,514 to bring both policies current.

Grove City man worked for pest control company while on workers’ comp

Terry Shaver booking photoA Grove City man who was off work and collecting injured worker’s benefits from his employer now must pay his employer back after investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation discovered him secretly working another job.

Terry Shaver, 57, pleaded guilty June 8 in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. A judge ordered Shaver to pay his employer $5,000 in restitution and sentenced him to 180 days in jail. The judge suspended the jail sentence and sentenced Shaver to one year of community control.

Acting on a tip, the BWC’s Special Investigations Department began investigating Shaver last year and found him working as an independent contractor for a local pest control company. Investigators say Shaver “worked knowingly and with fraudulent intent and concealed his employment” from the BWC and his regular employer.

Court records show Shaver has paid his employer $2,023 in restitution to date.

Home health aide worker convicted of workers’ comp fraud

Angelique Braxton booking photoA Columbus woman who worked for more than 20 months while receiving injured worker’s benefits must serve two years of community control and pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation nearly $2,000 for investigating her.

Angelique Braxton, 45, pleaded guilty June 15 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. A judge sentenced Braxton to 60 days in jail before suspending the sentence as part of a plea deal, and ordered her to pay the BWC $1,902 for its investigation. Braxton was overpaid $37,962.17 due to her fraudulent activities. She paid the entire amount back prior to the plea agreement.

The BWC’s Special Investigations Department this year found Braxton working as a home health aide while receiving Temporary Total Disability Benefits from the BWC.

Ohio BWC investigative unit nets 5 convictions in May

Investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation landed five convictions in May of individuals caught cheating the workers’ compensation system or deceptively obtaining prescription narcotics.

Those convicted included one woman who was cashing in on a dead man’s injured worker’s benefits, another who falsely claimed she was poisoned at work, two men who were found working while receiving BWC benefits and another who hoodwinked two physicians into writing overlapping prescriptions for painkillers.

“Investigating and putting an end to fraud helps protect the benefits of injured workers and keep employers’ premiums down,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “That’s why BWC is so proactive in pursuing all employers, medical providers, workers and others who are committing fraud.”

The BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) has netted 45 convictions so far this year. May’s convictions include:

Darlean McCurdy (Hamilton County) – McCurdy pleaded guilty May 10 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators photographed her using a deceased BWC claimant’s EBT card to withdraw cash from several ATMs.

A Hamilton County common pleas court judge on May 24 ordered McCurdy to perform 100 hours of community service, serve five years probation and repay the BWC $7,321.16, plus $2,265 in investigative costs. She was also sentenced to a year in prison but only if she violates her parole.

Jennifer Martin (Morrow County) – Martin filed for BWC benefits after claiming to police someone at work poisoned her by putting bug spray in her beverage. A police investigation found her claim to be false.

Martin pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud May 10 in Mason Municipal Court. A judge sentenced her to one year probation and ordered her to repay the BWC $2,143.50 for its investigation and pay court costs of $420. The judge also sentenced her to 180 days in jail, which he then suspended.

James Calvey (Cuyahoga County) — Calvey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud May 17 after investigators filmed him working as a tow truck driver while receiving Temporary Total Disability Benefits from the BWC. A Franklin County common pleas judge sentenced Calvey to 10 days in jail, to be served in August, and fined him $100.

Carol Hoover (Pike County) – Hoover pleaded guilty May 10 in Clark County Common Pleas Court to one count of deception to obtain a dangerous drug, a felony of the fifth degree. She was sentenced June 1 to two years of community control and fined $1,000.

BWC investigators became suspicious after reviewing records indicating Hoover received narcotic prescriptions with overlapping fill dates from two different physicians. When interviewed, the physicians said they felt deceived and would not have prescribed the narcotics had they been aware of the other prescribing physician.

Spiro Frangos (Mahoning County) — Frangos pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth degree felony, on May 9, after investigators found him working as a laborer while receiving BWC benefits. A Franklin County common pleas judge sentenced Frangos to two years of community control.

Cincinnati-area woman falsely claims she was poisoned at work

A southwest Ohio woman lied when she claimed she was poisoned at work from someone putting bug spray in her drink, and now she must repay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for investigating her false claim.

Jennifer Martin, of the village of Morrow in Warren County, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of Workers’ Compensation fraud on May 10 in Mason Municipal Court. A judge sentenced her to one year probation and ordered her to repay the BWC $2,143.50 and pay court costs of $420. He also sentenced her to 180 days in jail, which he then suspended.

Martin was also charged with, and agreed to plead guilty to, filing a false police report with the Mason Police Department. A Mason police detective reported Martin to the BWC after investigating Martin’s claim of being poisoned. The detective’s investigation determined Martin was never poisoned or injured at work and she had filed a false police report.

Cincinnati woman took dead man’s injured worker’s benefits

A Cincinnati woman must perform 100 hours of community service and serve five years probation after pleading guilty last month to stealing a dead man’s workers’ compensation benefits.

Darlean McCurdy, 56, pleaded guilty May 10 in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas to one count of Workers’ Compensation Fraud, a fifth degree felony. At her sentencing May 24, a judge ordered her to repay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation $7,321.16, plus investigative costs of $2,264.97. He also sentenced her to a year in prison but only if she violates her parole.

The Ohio BWC’s Special Investigation Department began looking at McCurdy after learning the BWC claimant entitled to the benefits died last year. Investigators obtained several photographs of McCurdy using the claimant’s EBT card to withdraw money at various ATM’s.