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Archive for April, 2017

BWC nets nine fraud convictions in March

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation secured nine convictions in March of workers and employers who cheated, or attempted to cheat, the agency out of funds reserved for legitimately injured workers and workplace safety efforts.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department has secured 38 convictions this calendar year, as of March 31. Last month’s cases include:

Ronnie Simmons Jr. of Cleveland, dba Simmons Adult Care, Lapsed Coverage
Simmons pleaded guilty March 29 to a minor misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud for failing to carry proper workers’ compensation insurance. Following a judge’s order, he paid his outstanding balance of $3,587 to BWC.

Michelle Litton of Marysville, Working and Receiving
Investigators found Litton operating a pet grooming business out of her home while receiving BWC benefits. She pleaded guilty March 28 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. She was sentenced to one day of jail time and given credit for time served.

Charles Knight of Cuyahoga Falls, Working and Receiving
Investigators found Knight working as an independent contractor and construction laborer while receiving BWC benefits. Knight pleaded guilty March 23 to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He paid $3,731 in restitution to BWC.

Jennifer Garner of Toledo, Working and Receiving
Garner pleaded guilty March 21 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. A judge ordered Garner, who was found working while receiving disability benefits, to pay BWC $7,645 in restitution and sentenced her to five years of community control and a suspended jail term of four months. Garner paid $1,000 prior to her guilty plea.

James Miller of Fulton County, Attempted Workers’ Compensation Fraud
Miller pleaded guilty March 17 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of attempted workers compensation fraud after he and his sister were found withdrawing and sharing their late father’s BWC cash benefits. A judge sentenced him to a suspended sentence of six months in jail and a $100 fine. His sister, Cecilia Williams, was sentenced in February to two years of community control, a suspended jail term of seven months and ordered to take a theft education course.

Patrick Fachman of Columbus, False Claim
Fachman pleaded guilty March 14 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, for filing two false injured worker’s claims against a former employer. He was sentenced to one day in jail time and given credit for time served.

Jamie Miller of Columbus, Falsified Coverage Application
Miller obtained workers’ compensation coverage for a painting business she purported to own. But investigators found she was merely trying to obtain a valid BWC certificate for her husband, Shannon Miller, a painter whose coverage had lapsed. Jamie Miller pleaded guilty March 14 to one count of criminal mischief, a first-degree misdemeanor. She was given credit for two days jail time served. She must complete 24 hours of community service in lieu of fines and court costs.

Daniel Burch of Akron, dba Check Mart, Lapsed Coverage
Burch failed to cooperate with the BWC Employer Compliance Department that was helping him to reinstate BWC coverage that had been lapsed since 2008. Burch pleaded guilty March 13 to failure to comply, a second-degree misdemeanor. He was ordered to bring his policy into compliance with the law.

John Lewis of Cincinnati, Working and Receiving
Already serving time in an Indiana prison for a burglary conviction, Lewis pleaded guilty March 9 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud and was sentenced to nine months incarceration, to be served concurrent with his Indiana sentence. BWC investigators discovered Lewis had been working for a Wendy’s restaurant while collecting $32,532 in BWC benefits from June 2013 to August 2014.

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

Coal miner digs himself a hole in fraud scheme

A former coal miner from northeast Ohio owes the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $40,000 after BWC investigators found him creating phony employment records to secure BWC cash benefits.

Steven R. Kornbau, 50, of Mahoning County, pleaded guilty March 28 to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. A judge ordered Kornbau to reimburse BWC $40,514 and sentenced him to six months in jail, which he then suspended for five years of community control.

“As Mr. Kornbau’s case shows, some people get creative in trying to cheat the workers’ compensation system” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “But that’s no match for our investigators and claims personnel who are trained to detect suspicious claims and stop fraud when they see it. The funds we recover from this case will return to where they belong — taking care of injured workers and creating safe workplaces across this state.”

Kornbau’s case centers around “working wage-loss benefits” he received from Dec. 1, 2014 until April 2, 2016. These benefits are designed to make up the difference in wages between the injured worker’s job at the time of injury and the job following recovery if it pays less.

Kornbau, a coal miner when he was injured in 2009, was supposed to be working, or at least actively looking for work, to receive the benefits. Instead, Kornbau created a fictitious company called Anderson’s Windows and Doors and submitted phony payroll records to BWC as evidence he was working. BWC staff noticed inconsistencies in the records in the summer of 2015 and contacted the agency’s Special Investigations Department.

Investigators quickly determined the company was fake, and Kornbau confessed as much during questioning.

In other recent fraud cases:

  • Robert Lester, of Columbus, pleaded guilty April 4 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for filing two false claims for BWC benefits. Lester filed the claims stating he was injured at work, when, in fact, he was not employed at the time of his alleged injuries. A judge sentenced him to 13 days in jail and gave him credit for 13 days served.
  • Shawn Lines, 41, of Ashtabula, pleaded guilty April 3 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving temporary disability benefits. A Franklin County judge ordered Lines to reimburse BWC $5,370 in minimum payments of at least $125 a month.
  • Ronnie Simmons Jr., of Cleveland, owner of Simmons Adult Care, pleaded guilty March 29 to a minor misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud for failing to carry proper workers’ compensation insurance. Following a judge’s order, he paid his outstanding balance of $3,587 to BWC.

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