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Archive for October, 2018

Lapsed policy costs Columbus cleaner $43,000

BWC wraps three fraud-related cases over the last week

The owner of a Columbus cleaning company who continued to run his business after his workers’ compensation insurance lapsed in 2010 paid more than $43,000 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) at his court hearing Oct. 18.

Gyorgy Benedek, owner of Maintenance Free Building Services Inc., pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of Failure to Comply after submitting a check to BWC for $43,069 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The plea followed a BWC investigation that revealed Benedek provided falsified BWC certificates of coverage to land a cleaning contract with another company.

“We got a tip from a company doing business with Mr. Benedek that his BWC certificates looked suspicious, so we checked it out,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department. “We found multiple problems with the certificates indicating Mr. Benedek was attempting to skirt his legal obligation to protect his employees and carry proper insurance.”

Among BWC’s findings:

  • Benedek provided three BWC certificates showing the signature of former BWC Administrator/CEO Marsha P. Ryan when it should have been the signature of her successor, Stephen Buehrer.
  • The certificates were dated during a period Benedek’s policy was lapsed.
  • Benedek reported zero payroll between 2009 and 2015, but a BWC audit found he had more than 30 employees during that time and unreported payroll of more than $650,000.

In two other recent cases, a Canton woman must pay BWC $26,719 in restitution after pleading guilty to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation on Oct. 18, and a Cincinnati-area business owner avoided a felony fraud conviction by paying $4,000 in restitution to BWC at his court hearing Oct. 22.

Acting on a tip, BWC investigators found Penny L. Sibila of Canton working as a property manager for an apartment complex from May 11, 2015 to July 27, 2016, while collecting BWC benefits for an injury she suffered in 2014.

Investigators observed Sibila performing several office functions and learned she collected commissions for landing new tenants. They also found she used the alias “Linda” to conceal her return to work from BWC.

In addition to restitution, a Franklin County judge sentenced Sibila to two years of non-reporting probation in lieu of a seven-month jail sentence.

 

In Hamilton County on Monday (Oct. 22), Frank Krailler of Loveland pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found him operating his business, Transmission Specialists of Montgomery, without BWC coverage.

Krailler paid BWC $4,000 in restitution at his hearing in a Hamilton County court room, but an outstanding balance remains.

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

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BWC reports 7 fraud-related convictions in September

Six Ohioans and a Florida resident owing the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $450,000 in back premiums and restitution were convicted on fraud or fraud-related charges in September.

Those convicted include a Jackson Twp. business owner who misclassified his employees and underreported his payroll to shave $350,000 off his BWC premiums. Others include a basketball coach, a taxi service owner and a valet attendant.

“Whether it’s employers trying to avoid paying their fair share or claimants trying to hide their work activity, cheating the system is not tolerated,” said Jennifer Cunningham, assistant director of BWC’s special investigations department. “We exist to find and prosecute these cheaters to reduce costs to employers and ensure honest claimants receive the benefits they need.”

September’s cases bring total convictions since January to 61, as of Sept. 30. Those convicted, in order of most recent court case, include:

Christine Estrict, Working and Receiving, Cleveland, Ohio
Estrict, aka Christina Estrict, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud on Sept. 26 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas after BWC found her working as a youth basketball coach and referee while collecting BWC benefits. A judge sentenced her to 180 days in jail, then suspended the sentence for five years of probation. He ordered her to pay BWC $4,156 in restitution.

Glenn J. Miller III, Working and Receiving, Augustine, Florida
Miller pleaded guilty Sept. 26 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, after BWC found him working as a truck driver while collecting BWC benefits. A judge sentenced him to six months incarceration, suspended for three years of community control with the condition to pay restitution of $16,000 to BWC.

James M Horton, dba All Around Transportation, Lapsed Coverage, Hamilton, Ohio
Horton, of Clarksville, pleaded guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor count of Failure to Comply Sept. 25 in Hamilton Municipal Court after BWC discovered his policy lapsed in July 2016. Horton, who owes BWC more than $55,000 in back premiums, faces up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine at his sentencing Dec. 5 if he fails to enter a repayment plan by then.

Anthony Caputo, Working and Receiving, Strongsville, Ohio
Caputo pleaded guilty Sept. 17 in Franklin County to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ comp fraud after investigators found him working as a valet attendant at a Cleveland-area hospital while collecting BWC benefits. A judge fined him $500 in lieu of a 10-day jail sentence. Caputo paid BWC $4,021 in restitution prior to his plea.

Linda Cline, Working and Receiving, Springfield, Ohio
Cline pleaded guilty in a Franklin County courtroom to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found her working while collecting BWC benefits. A judge ordered Cline to serve six months of community control and to pay $1,500 in investigative costs. Cline paid BWC $6,759 in restitution prior to her plea.

Craig Snee, dba Earth ‘n Wood, Underreporting and Misclassification of Payroll, North Canton, Ohio
A Stark County jury found Snee guilty Sept. 12 of a fourth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found he had misclassified his employees and underreported his payroll to save $350,000 in BWC premiums. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17.

Clarice Ward, Working and Receiving, Euclid, Ohio
Ward pleaded guilty Sept. 4 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators found her working while collecting BWC benefits. A Cuyahoga County judge sentenced her to six months in prison, suspended for five years of community control, and ordered her to pay BWC $26,578 in restitution.

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

Taxi service owes BWC $55K in back premiums

Owner pleads guilty to ‘failure to comply’ with workers’ comp law

The owner of a taxi service in southwest Ohio who owes the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation more than $55,000 in back premiums has until December to enter a repayment plan with the agency or he could face jail time and fines.

James M. Horton of Clarksville, owner of All Around Transportation in Hamilton, pleaded guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor count of Failure to Comply Sept. 25 in Hamilton Municipal Court. He faces up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine at his sentencing Dec. 5 if he fails to enter a repayment plan by then.

“We understand the pressures of running a business, and that’s why we work with employers to bring them into compliance before involving the criminal justice system,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigation department. “Unfortunately, Mr. Horton didn’t follow through on his side, and as a result of a subsequent investigation criminal charges were filed.”

Horton’s BWC policy lapsed in July 2016.

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