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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.

Fraudulent billing leads to occupational therapist’s conviction

Agency secures 6 fraud-related convictions in December   

A northeast Ohio occupational therapist was convicted last month for felony workers’ compensation fraud for billing the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) for treatment services she did not provide to patients.

Susanna Kagalitskaya Freedman, of Euclid, pleaded guilty Dec. 17 in a Cuyahoga County court to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud. The judge sentenced her to five years of probation and a $2,500 fine. Additionally, Freedman was permanently decertified to treat BWC patients for claim-related injuries.

“As an agency, we expect providers to give superior care and service to injured workers,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “This particular provider obviously did not meet the standard of care injured workers deserve and she cheated our system.”

Numerous red flags in Freedman’s billing practices and treatment notes sent to BWC prompted BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) to initiate an investigation starting in October 2017. Investigators discovered Freedman was falsifying documents, indicating services had been rendered when they had not. BWC would then pay for the substandard care based on the falsified information Freedman provided.

SID secured five other fraud-related convictions in December, bringing calendar year 2019’s total to 94.

Jeffrey Jakob of Toledo
Jakob pleaded guilty Dec. 31 in Toledo Municipal Court to one count of failure to comply, a second-degree misdemeanor, after BWC found he was operating his business, J.A. Jakob Marine Contracting, with lapsed coverage since March 2015. BWC agents made multiple attempts to assist Jakob in getting his coverage reinstated, but he failed to do so. The judge ordered him to one year of probation and to comply with a reinstatement payment plan with the Ohio Attorney General’s office. He must also remain current on installment payments to BWC.

Harold Brown of Bellefontaine
Brown pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to three second-degree misdemeanor charges of failure to comply for running his business, Brown’s Lawn & Tree Service, without workers’ compensation coverage. BWC investigators discovered his BWC policy had been lapsed since September 2010. Brown received 30 days in jail (suspended), a $250 fine, and was ordered to make regular payments to BWC and the Attorney General until a reinstatement payment plan was paid in full. The current amount due on Brown’s BWC policy is approximately $133,000.

Marie Olinger of Delta
On Dec. 17, a Franklin County judged ordered Olinger to three years of community control for working while receiving more than $2,800 in disability benefits from BWC. The investigation found Olinger had returned to work at the Dental Center of Northwest Ohio between January and March 2017 while receiving temporary total disability benefits.

Rodney Filibeck of Mansfield
Filibeck pleaded guilty Dec. 16 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. After receiving an anonymous tip, BWC investigators determined Filibeck was working construction jobs while receiving BWC disability benefits between September 2016 and June 2017. The judge handed down a 60-day jail sentence, suspended for 12 months of community control and ordered him to pay $2,519 in restitution to BWC.

Deangelo Speed of Shaker Heights
Speed pleaded guilty Dec. 2 in a Franklin County courtroom to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud. BWC agents found Speed working as a truck driver while collecting BWC benefits from Oct. 20, 2015, through Jan. 27, 2017. The judge ordered Speed to pay BWC $7,599 in restitution and court costs by March 2, 2020. The judge also sentenced Speed to a six-month jail sentence, suspended for six months of probation.

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

BWC reports 4 fraud-related convictions in June

Four Ohioans were convicted for workers’ compensation fraud or related charges in June, including a Springfield man who must reimburse the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $13,000 after investigators found him working two jobs while collecting disability benefits.

Clark A. Howard pleaded guilty June 18 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC investigators discovered him working for a pizza shop in London, Ohio, and as a machine press operator for another business. A Franklin County judge ordered Howard to pay BWC $13,518 in restitution.

“We’re here to support injured workers as they try to get back to work and back to life, not supplement the income of able-bodied people cheating our system,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud.

The judge also sentenced Howard to 30 months of community control (probation) in lieu of a year in jail.

Other June convictions include:

Ben Patterson of Xenia, Ohio, dba C&B Landscaping
Patterson pleaded guilty June 25 to one count of failure to comply, a second-degree misdemeanor, for operating his landscaping company without BWC coverage since 2009. Investigators worked with Patterson to reinstate coverage, but Patterson failed to establish a payment plan.

Patterson paid all outstanding BWC premiums, related fees and interest on June 24, the day before his court hearing. A Xenia Municipal Court judge fined him $150 and court costs and sentenced him to 90 days in jail, suspended upon the condition he not have a similar offense for five years.

Patricia Simon of Columbus, Ohio
Simon pleaded guilty June 18 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after BWC determined she intentionally submitted a false statement to support her claim for workers’ compensation benefits. A Franklin County judge ordered her to pay a $250 fine and $128 to BWC for investigative costs.

Lori Hines of Waynesfield, Ohio, dba Marshall’s Hydraulic Services
Hines pleaded guilty June 7 to one count of failure to comply, a second-degree misdemeanor, after BWC found Marshall’s Hydraulic Services operating without BWC coverage since January 2017.

An Auglaize County Municipal Court judge sentenced Hines to a year of non-reporting probation, a 90-day suspended jail term and a $100 fine. Hines subsequently paid her BWC balance in full and the company’s coverage was reinstated.

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

Ohio woman keeps BWC benefits alive after father dies

Owes BWC more than $29,000 after fraud conviction

A northeastern Ohio woman pleaded guilty May 9 to workers’ compensation fraud after investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) found her collecting her father’s benefits for more than two years after he died.

Deborah Rosenlieb of Cuyahoga Falls pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree felony in the Summit County Common Pleas Court, where a judge ordered her to pay BWC $29,418 in restitution. The judge also ordered Rosenlieb to serve two years of community service.

“Ms. Rosenlieb’s father was receiving death benefits on behalf of his late wife, but when her father died in January 2016 she didn’t let us know,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “She knew she wasn’t entitled to these benefits, but she used them for personal expenses until we learned of her scheme in April 2018.”

In other news:

A Cleveland man must pay BWC $3,525 in restitution after pleading guilty Monday to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found him working as a maintenance technician and office manager while collecting disability benefits.

James Nichols, 57, also must serve two years of probation and pay court costs. He paid $1,000 toward his restitution prior to entering his guilty plea in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

A Youngstown woman pleaded guilty May 2 to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found her working for a call center while collecting disability benefits.

A Franklin County judge ordered Natasha Mitchum, 42, to pay BWC $1,863 in restitution and serve three years of probation.

A Canton electrician avoided a potential felony conviction for workers’ compensation fraud May 1 by paying BWC $54,220 in restitution prior to his sentencing.

John Griggy, 48, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working intermittently from 2013 through 2016 while collecting disability benefits. A Cuyahoga County judge waived fines and court costs.

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

Order up! Restaurant manager earns fraud conviction

A Youngstown woman must pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation more than $18,000 in restitution after the agency found her working as a Steak ‘n Shake manager while collecting BWC disability benefits, a judge ruled April 16.

Kristin Stuhldreher, 54, pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. In addition to $18,239 in restitution, Stuhldreher also must serve five years of probation.

“Our investigators found Ms. Stuhldreher worked for seven months in 2017 while concealing her employment from us so she could continue to receive BWC benefits,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “Clearly, she wasn’t disabled from work, and I’m grateful to our investigators for bringing this fraudulent scheme to an end.”

According to BWC’s Special Investigations Department, Stuhldreher collected workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an injury in late 2010 while working for another employer. She required surgery for that injury years later while working for Steak ‘n Shake. She took time off for the surgery, but didn’t tell BWC when she returned to work.

In other news:

A northeast Ohio man pleaded guilty April 17 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found him working as an industrial assembler while collecting BWC benefits.

A Franklin County judge ordered Antonio Daniels of Streetsboro to pay BWC $6,409 in restitution and serve five years of probation in lieu of 30 days in jail.

A northeast Ohio woman was sentenced April 8 to five years of probation after BWC found her working as a self-employed photographer while receiving disability benefits from her employer.

A Trumbull County judge ordered Kimberly Floyd of Warren, owner of Floyd’s Photography and KLG Sports Photography, to also pay $325 in court fees. Floyd pleaded guilty Feb. 4 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud.

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

Columbus woman files claim for phony workplace injury

anissa burns 2Anissa Burns of Columbus (Franklin County) was sentenced recently after BWC investigators discovered she filed a false workplace injury claim.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department began investigating after receiving an allegation indicating Burns had falsified a First Report of Injury (FROI) in an attempt to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Burns completed a FROI and alleged she was injured while working at M&S Carryout. The investigation proved Burns was not employed on the date she claimed she was injured.

Burns pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of falsification in the Franklin County Municipal Court on Nov. 24. She was sentenced to 12 days in jail, suspended for time served. She was also fined $250. An order to pay court costs totaling $208 was dismissed due to inability to pay.