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Archive for February, 2020

Ohio business owners owe more than $800K following fraud-related convictions

William H. Foster III

Three Northeast Ohio men owe the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $800,000 after investigators discovered they were operating their businesses without workers’ compensation coverage.

“These business owners learned the hard way they cannot operate their business without workers’ compensation coverage, and now they owe us hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “I’m pleased our investigators stopped these employers from continuing to break the law and cheat our system.”

William H. Foster III, owner of American Construction Group LTD, pleaded guilty Feb. 11 in a Summit County courtroom to a second-degree misdemeanor of obstructing official business after failing to work with BWC to reinstate his policy. A judge sentenced Foster to credit for time served in jail and to follow the payment agreement he made with the BWC and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to reinstate his policy. Foster owes BWC more than $360,000 in past premiums and penalties.

Paul “Bob” Collier Jr.

In Stark County, Paul “Bob” Collier Jr. and Miklos Fioretto pleaded guilty on Jan. 17 and Feb. 5, respectively, to a fourth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud for failing to maintain coverage on their East Sparta, Ohio, business. Investigators discovered that Fioretto and Collier changed the name of their pallet manufacturing business to avoid paying past premiums and penalties associated with the business.

Both men were sentenced to three years of community service. A condition of probation is to pay BWC restitution of $458,125.

In other news: A Columbus woman was ordered to pay BWC $6,941 in restitution on Tuesday after pleading guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor charge of workers’ compensation fraud.

BWC investigators discovered Jamia Smith, 39, working for a staffing firm while concealing that information from BWC to continue collecting disability benefits. A judge also sentenced Smith to three years of probation in lieu of six months in jail.

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

Woman convicted for cashing dead mother’s workers’ comp benefits

Alabama fraudster owes BWC $18,000

An Alabama woman was convicted of workers’ compensation fraud last month after investigators discovered she was cashing her deceased mother’s workers’ comp checks more than a year after her mother died.

Patricia Barney pleaded guilty Jan. 23 in a Franklin County courtroom to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud. A judge sentenced Barney to five years of probation and ordered her to pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) $18,000 in restitution.

“Ms. Barney was clearly not the intended recipient of these benefits, and I’m pleased we brought her fraudulent activity to an end,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department found Barney, who was an authorized user on a bank account where her mother’s BWC benefit payments were being directly deposited, continued to use funds on the account after her mother passed away in January 2017. She did so until May 2018 without notifying BWC.

Other convictions in January include:

Shawn Ferrer of Canton, Ohio
Ferrer pleaded guilty Jan. 28 in Franklin County Court to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, for working while receiving disability checks. A judge ordered Ferrer to pay $1,599 in restitution to BWC and sentenced to 90 days in jail and six months of probation.

Glenn Cummings and Jack Cummings, dba Cummings Moving & Storage of Dayton, Ohio Glenn and Jack Cummings owed BWC more $9,600 in premiums and penalties after they were convicted of operating their business without workers’ compensation coverage since September 2017.

Jack Cummings pleaded guilty Jan. 21 Dayton Municipal Court to one minor misdemeanor count of failure to comply and was sentenced to pay a $50 fine and court costs. Glenn Cummings pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to one minor misdemeanor count of failure to comply and was sentenced to pay a $25 fine and court costs. BWC reinstated their policy Jan. 21 after the Cummings paid their premiums and established a reinstatement payment plan.

Barton Carmichael, dba Haul Away Containers Inc, Bigdumpster.com LLC, and Wastetran LTD of Akron, Ohio
Carmichael pleaded guilty Jan. 21 in Franklin County to one amended charge of theft, a first-degree misdemeanor, for operating his businesses without workers’ compensation coverage. A judge ordered Carmichael to pay $14,329 to BWC in restitution. His 180-day jail sentence was suspended.

Todd Bennett, dba Rent-A-Vision, McConnelsville, Ohio
Bennett pleaded guilty Jan. 6 in Morgan County Court to two counts of failure to comply, both second-degree misdemeanors, for operating his business without workers’ compensation. A judge ordered Bennett to pay $50 in fines plus court costs for each count.

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

How employers can prevent workers’ compensation fraud

February 7, 2020 1 comment

By Dan Fodor, Assistant Director, BWC Special Investigations Department

Workers’ compensation fraud can be costly, so it’s important to know how to protect your organization. Here are five ways you can prevent fraud.

1. Make employees aware of workers’ compensation fraud. Employees should know that workers’ compensation fraud has a price. Individuals who are caught may face a felony criminal record.

2. Promote a zero-tolerance fraud policy. Promoting a zero-tolerance policy encourages employees to be active in reporting and preventing fraud. Ensure that employees are aware of how and where they can report suspected fraud at any time.

3. Know the red flags. As an employer, it is important to know the indicators of potential fraud while reviewing incident reports. Some of these red flags include:

    • Late reporting of the incident without a reasonable explanation.
    • Inconsistent descriptions of initial report of injury.
    • The individual is hard to reach.
    • Individuals who perform seasonal work that is about to end when they file a claim.

4. Create safe working conditions. Prioritizing the safety of your employees is an effective method in preventing fraud. Train your employees to identify possible safety hazards at work and how to report them.

5. Use your resources. If you suspect an individual of fraud, contact BWC’s Special Investigations Department and let them investigate. Special investigations professionals pursue cases of claims fraud, medical provider fraud or employer fraud. Also, if you suspect other organizations may be operating without workers’ comp coverage, you should contact BWC.

If you suspect workers’ compensation fraud, submit a Fraud Allegation Form or call 1-800-644-6292, and follow the options.