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Posts Tagged ‘Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’

Ohio BWC secures 7 convictions in June

More than a quarter million dollars owed in restitution

Six current and one former Ohioan who owe more than $269,000 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) were convicted in June on charges related to workers’ compensation fraud.

Those convicted included six employers and one injured worker who was working in Colorado while collecting disability benefits from BWC. Three employers account for the bulk of the restitution owed.

“If these employers had just played by the rules and reached out to us for help when they were struggling, we could have had a better outcome for all involved,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department. “Instead, they went in a different direction and now they have a criminal record in addition to their unpaid BWC premiums.”

In order of most recent court appearance, those convicted include:

Randall Mount, dba Ram Restoration, Lapsed Coverage, Dayton, Ohio
Mount pleaded no contest June 25 to one count of failure to comply, a second-degree misdemeanor, after BWC found him operating without coverage since January 2016. BWC worked with Mount to bring his policy current, but Mount failed to follow through.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 13. The judge advised Mount that he should come to sentencing prepared to show actual steps taken toward reinstatement and compliance with the law. Mount owes more than $190,000 in premiums and claims costs billed to his policy while his coverage was lapsed.

Karrie Hoskisson, Working and Receiving, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Hoskisson, 44, formerly of Canal Winchester, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor theft charge June 21 after BWC found her living and working in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a night watchman while receiving BWC benefits.

The former dog groomer was sentenced to 36 days in jail. A Franklin County judge gave her credit for time served because she was jailed in Colorado after her arrest in May and again in Columbus following her extradition to Ohio.

John Triskett, dba The Gyro Spot, Under Reporting Payroll, Parma, Ohio
Triskett pleaded guilty June 19 to one count of Attempted Workers’ Compensation Fraud, a second-degree misdemeanor, after BWC found his business lacked workers’ comp coverage. A judge sentenced Triskett to 30 days in jail (suspended), six months of probation and ordered Triskett to pay a $100 fine and $1,140 in restitution to BWC.

Jason Brown, dba Bolts Carriers LLC, Lapsed Coverage, Bellefontaine, Ohio
Brown pleaded no contest June 12 in the Bellefontaine Municipal Court to two counts of failure to comply, both second-degree misdemeanors. Brown was sentenced to 20 days jail and fined $450 for each charge. The judge suspended the sentence conditionally, giving Brown until Dec. 12 to prove to the court that his BWC policy had been reinstated.

The policy for Bolts Carriers LLC had been lapsed since September 2015. Prior to sentencing, Brown paid approximately $1,900 toward his balance of more than $55,000.

Howard McIntosh, dba Custom Canvas, Lapsed Coverage, Lakeview, Ohio
McIntosh pleaded no contest June 12 in the Bellefontaine Municipal Court to three counts of failure to comply, all second-degree misdemeanors. McIntosh was sentenced to 30 days jail and fined $450 for each charge. The judge suspended the  sentence conditionally, giving McIntosh until Sept. 1 to prove to the court his BWC policy had been reinstated. One week prior to his court appearance, McIntosh remitted a $1,000 payment toward his BWC balance of more than $23,000.

Stephen Frair, dba Frair Ltd, Lapsed Coverage, Columbus, Ohio
Frair pleaded guilty June 5 in Franklin County Municipal Court to two counts of failure to comply, both second-degree misdemeanors, after letting his policy lapse in July 2015. Frair told BWC he closed his business Nov. 1, 2017. A judge fined him $165.

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

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Truck-driving fraudster owes Ohio BWC more than $78,000

Judge orders restitution, 5 years probation

A judge on June 28 ordered a Zanesville-area truck driver to pay $78,321 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) after investigators found the driver had gone back to work without telling BWC so he could continue to collect disability benefits.

The Franklin County judge also sentenced Walter Lee, 54, of Frazeysburg to five years of probation and a 14-day suspended jail term. Lee pleaded guilty on April 24 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud.

“Our investigators discovered through state records that Mr. Lee had returned to work as a truck driver on May 3, 2013, but he deliberately concealed that information from BWC,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department.

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

Dog groomer, two businesses plead to workers comp fraud-related charges

A former central Ohio dog groomer pleaded guilty to a theft charge June 21 after investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) found her living and working in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while receiving BWC benefits.

Karrie Hoskisson, 44, formerly of Canal Winchester, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor theft count and was sentenced to 36 days in jail. A Franklin County judge gave her credit for time served because she was jailed in Colorado after her arrest in May and again in Columbus following her extradition.

“Ms. Hoskisson failed to follow through with us following her not guilty plea to theft and workers’ compensation fraud charges in 2016, so we had her arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Office and extradited to Ohio,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department.

Wernecke said marshals arrested Hoskisson on May 16 when she appeared for a medical exam related to her 2004 work injury. He said Hoskisson collected $15,000 in BWC benefits during the time she was also working as a night watchman in Colorado.

Click here for a photo of Hoskisson.

Two business owners convicted

In other news, the owner of a Dayton-area business that owes BWC more than $190,000 must prove to a judge that he’s taken steps to bring his policy back into compliance when he’s sentenced on a related criminal charge Aug. 13.

Randall Mount, the owner of Ram Restoration in Centerville, pleaded no contest Monday in Kettering Municipal Court to a second-degree misdemeanor count that he failed to comply with Ohio law requiring him to carry workers’ compensation coverage for his business. Mount’s business remediates water, fire and mold damage and performs other construction work, according to its website.

Back premiums and claims costs have accrued since Mount’s policy lapsed in January 2016. BWC worked with Mount for five months to bring his policy into compliance, but Mount ultimately failed to do so.

In another employer case, the owner of a Columbus automotive repair shop pleaded guilty June 5 to two second-degree misdemeanor counts of Failure to Comply after letting his policy lapse in July 2015.

Steve Frair told BWC he closed his Essex Avenue business Nov. 1, 2017. A judge in the Franklin County Municipal Court fined Frair $165. Frair owes BWC $626 in back premiums and penalties.

Three Ohio businesses plead in work comp fraud cases

Two owners owe a combined $78K in back premiums

Two business owners from Bellefontaine, Ohio, that owe approximately $78,000 in back premiums to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation can avoid fines and jail time if they bring their BWC policies back into compliance later this year, a municipal judge ruled June 12.

“Letting your workers’ compensation coverage lapse is a serious matter that puts employees and businesses at risk for potentially staggering medical costs and related expenses,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department. “We tried to work with these owners, but they ultimately didn’t do what they needed to do to avoid criminal charges.”

Jason Brown, the owner of the trucking company Bolts Carriers LLC in Bellefontaine, pleaded no contest to two second-degree misdemeanor counts of Failure to Comply after BWC found he defaulted on a reinstatement payment plan in September 2015. Prior to sentencing, Brown paid approximately $1,900 toward his balance of more than $55,000. He has until Dec. 12 to bring his policy into compliance or he could face 20 days jail and a $450 fine on each of the two charges.

In a separate case, the owner of a boat canvas shop in Bellefontaine whose policy lapsed 18 years ago has until Sept. 1 to bring the company’s policy into compliance. One week prior to sentencing, Desee McIntosh of Custom Canvas remitted a $1,000 payment toward his balance of more than $23,000. He pleaded no contest to three second-degree misdemeanor counts of Failure to Comply. He faces 30 days in jail and $450 in fines for each count.

In other news, the owner of The Gyro Spot Bar & Grill in Parma, Ohio, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of Attempted Workers’ Compensation Fraud, a second-degree misdemeanor, after BWC found his business lacked workers’ comp coverage.

As BWC agents worked with owner John Triskett to bring his business into compliance, they found he intentionally under-reported his payroll and used other inaccurate information to keep his policy payments significantly less than the amount he actually owed.

A judge sentenced Triskett to 30 days in jail (suspended), six months of probation and ordered Triskett to pay a $100 fine and $1,140 in restitution to BWC.

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

Eight Ohioans plead to work comp fraud-related charges in May

The eight Ohioans who pleaded guilty and no contest in May to fraud-related charges against the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) include a homicide suspect, a Cincinnati bus driver who collected disability benefits while working two other jobs, and a health care provider who billed BWC for work his company didn’t perform.

“Our convictions in May illustrate a range of fraud types that we see at BWC, some more serious than others,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department. “But regardless of severity, we approach each case with equal determination to find the truth, prosecute the guilty and reclaim funds that support injured workers and create safer workplaces in our state.”

The cases, in order of most recent court date, include:

Samantha Coleman, Cincinnati — Working and Receiving
Coleman was working as a bus driver for the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) when she was injured on the job in November 2015. While collecting disability benefits from SORTA, she continued to work her other two jobs as a tax preparer and security guard.

Coleman pleaded guilty May 30 in Hamilton County to one count of worker’s compensation fraud and one count of theft, both fifth-degree felonies. She was placed in the county’s diversion program because she had no prior record. Over the next year, she must reimburse SORTA $7,088, complete 120 hours of community service and participate in a counseling program.  If she successfully completes these requirements the case will be dismissed and she will not receive a conviction.

Bryan Gentry, Canal Fulton — Tampering with Records
Gentry pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of Tampering with Records after SID determined he created a phony BWC certificate of coverage to secure a tree-trimming job in Stark County. The judge sentenced him to a year in prison, to be served concurrently with a three-year term for assault and receiving stolen property.

Gentry, who’s imprisoned in Richland Correctional Institution in Mansfield, is also a suspect in the 2017 killing of a Stark County man who was romantically involved with Gentry’s girlfriend.

Gabriella Benkovits, Lakewood — Working and Receiving
Benkovits pleaded guilty May 22 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found her working as a bartender while collecting disability income. She must pay BWC $7,595 in restitution and serve two years of probation.

Jeffrey Guerin, Willoughby Hills — Services Not Rendered
Guerin pleaded guilty in a Franklin County court to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. BWC found him billing the agency for work his now-defunct company, PT Plus in Willoughby Hills, did not perform. Guerin paid $7,154 in restitution to BWC and agreed to leave the BWC network of providers.

Carolyn Tibbetts, Toledo — Lapsed Coverage
Tibbets, the owner of Little Explorers Toledo Learning Center, pleaded no contest May 17 to three charges of failure to comply after investigators found her operating her child care center without BWC coverage. Tibbets worked with BWC to bring her businesses into compliance, but she failed to continue payments on a balance of more than $12,000. The charges are second-degree misdemeanors.

A judge referred her case to Lucas County’s probation department to be considered for its Alternatives Program. No further court action will be taken against Tibbetts if she’s accepted into the program.

Marshall Winn IV, Niles — Working and Receiving
Winn, a truck driver from northeast Ohio, pleaded guilty May 14 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators found him working while collecting disability benefits. A Franklin County judge sentenced him to five years of probation in lieu of nine months in prison and ordered him to pay BWC $12,450 in restitution and court costs.

Brooke Mobley, Dayton — Working and Receiving
Mobley pleaded guilty May 9 in Franklin County to one count of theft, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found she had returned to work as an office worker while collecting disability benefits from BWC. A judge fined Mobley $200 plus court costs in lieu of a 60-day jail sentence. Mobley paid BWC $5,455 in restitution prior to her sentencing.

Judith Barlock, Parma — Lapsed Coverage
Barlock, the owner of Chase Professional Transport, failed to bring her company back into compliance after BWC discovered her policy had lapsed. She pleaded guilty May 2 to one count of failure to comply, a second-degree misdemeanor. A judge sentenced her to 90 days in jail (60 days suspended) and five years of probation. The court deferred the balance of jail time and $750 of her fine until a June 20 probation review. The amount of restitution owed BWC will be determined at that review.

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

Ohio murder suspect defrauds state work comp bureau

Northeast Ohio tree trimmer falsified coverage certificate

One month after his alleged role in murdering his girlfriend’s other lover in February 2017, Bryan T. Gentry created a phony proof-of-coverage certificate from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to land a tree-trimming job and avoid paying for actual coverage.

The Stark County man’s handiwork earned him a one-year prison sentence May 24 when a Summit County judge found him guilty of tampering with records, a third-degree felony. On the same day, the judge also found Gentry, 27, of Canal Fulton, guilty for the second-degree felonious assault of an Akron man last year, a crime apparently unrelated to his BWC case or to one involving a deadly love triangle.

“It seems our case might be the least of Mr. Gentry’s legal troubles right now, but we can’t let unrelated crimes stop us from doing our job,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department. “Our job is to deter, detect and prevent worker’s comp fraud. We don’t let anyone slide.”

The judge gave Gentry three years in prison for the assault charge, to be served concurrently with his sentence for tampering and still another prison sentence he earned in December for receiving stolen property. Police tracked Gentry down last year after finding his mail in a stolen truck.

In the BWC case, Wernecke said a customer of Gentry’s tree service contacted the agency last summer after he suspected Gentry’s BWC certificate wasn’t legitimate. Two clues tipped off the customer, an insurance salesman: The certificate lacked a policy number, and Gentry noted a policy period of one day, “3/10/2017 through 3/10/2017.” BWC’s practice is to note a full policy year, such as 07/01/2016 through 06/30/2017.

BWC agents determined Gentry doctored a relative’s certificate to look like his own so he and his six workers could get the job. Agents interviewed Gentry on Jan. 31 at the Lorain Correctional Institution in Grafton, Ohio, where he lied and denied forging the certificate, but was “soft-spoken and very well-mannered” while doing it, they said.

Two days later, Gentry’s life got more complicated. Acting on a tip from Gentry’s girlfriend, Stark County authorities recovered the body of 25-year-old man from the backyard of his Massillon home. They found him in a plastic tote, encased in concrete and buried six feet below ground.

For more on that case, see these articles in the Massillon Independent and People magazine.

Gentry has since been relocated to the Richland Correctional Institution in Mansfield.

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

Case update: Ohio doctor sentenced to 5-year prison term

Dr. Timothy Manuel, a Highland County physician who improperly prescribed opioids to injured workers, was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison and ordered to pay $12,060 in restitution to BWC.

Manuel, 59, was the subject of a joint investigation by BWC and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy that found he prescribed large amounts of medically-unnecessary oxycodone to numerous patients while working as a doctor at Hillsboro Urgent Care in southwestern Ohio. He also billed BWC for medical services that weren’t provided.

Manuel was taken into custody following his sentencing in the Highland County Court of Common Pleas. Read more on the case in this Hillsboro Times Gazette article.