Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Ohio fraud convictions’

Ohio BWC investigative unit nets 5 convictions in May

Investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation landed five convictions in May of individuals caught cheating the workers’ compensation system or deceptively obtaining prescription narcotics.

Those convicted included one woman who was cashing in on a dead man’s injured worker’s benefits, another who falsely claimed she was poisoned at work, two men who were found working while receiving BWC benefits and another who hoodwinked two physicians into writing overlapping prescriptions for painkillers.

“Investigating and putting an end to fraud helps protect the benefits of injured workers and keep employers’ premiums down,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “That’s why BWC is so proactive in pursuing all employers, medical providers, workers and others who are committing fraud.”

The BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) has netted 45 convictions so far this year. May’s convictions include:

Darlean McCurdy (Hamilton County) – McCurdy pleaded guilty May 10 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators photographed her using a deceased BWC claimant’s EBT card to withdraw cash from several ATMs.

A Hamilton County common pleas court judge on May 24 ordered McCurdy to perform 100 hours of community service, serve five years probation and repay the BWC $7,321.16, plus $2,265 in investigative costs. She was also sentenced to a year in prison but only if she violates her parole.

Jennifer Martin (Morrow County) – Martin filed for BWC benefits after claiming to police someone at work poisoned her by putting bug spray in her beverage. A police investigation found her claim to be false.

Martin pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud May 10 in Mason Municipal Court. A judge sentenced her to one year probation and ordered her to repay the BWC $2,143.50 for its investigation and pay court costs of $420. The judge also sentenced her to 180 days in jail, which he then suspended.

James Calvey (Cuyahoga County) — Calvey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud May 17 after investigators filmed him working as a tow truck driver while receiving Temporary Total Disability Benefits from the BWC. A Franklin County common pleas judge sentenced Calvey to 10 days in jail, to be served in August, and fined him $100.

Carol Hoover (Pike County) – Hoover pleaded guilty May 10 in Clark County Common Pleas Court to one count of deception to obtain a dangerous drug, a felony of the fifth degree. She was sentenced June 1 to two years of community control and fined $1,000.

BWC investigators became suspicious after reviewing records indicating Hoover received narcotic prescriptions with overlapping fill dates from two different physicians. When interviewed, the physicians said they felt deceived and would not have prescribed the narcotics had they been aware of the other prescribing physician.

Spiro Frangos (Mahoning County) — Frangos pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth degree felony, on May 9, after investigators found him working as a laborer while receiving BWC benefits. A Franklin County common pleas judge sentenced Frangos to two years of community control.

Montgomery County couple’s workers’ comp fraud scheme exposed

A New Lebanon (Montgomery County) man and his wife both pleaded guilty to fraud following an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) that uncovered their scheme to steal workers’ comp benefits. Mike and Terri Watkins appeared in court separately and were ordered to repay BWC a combined $108,000.

“The Watkins’ took deliberate steps that were clearly designed to maximize the dollars they could receive fraudulently from BWC for his workplace injury,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “That’s unfortunate and not representative of the many who truly need assistance as they recover. I’m grateful to our tipster for helping our investigators uncover their scheme.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) received an allegation that Mike Watkins may have returned to work for his business, Mike Watkins Sterling Homes, while he was collecting temporary total disability benefits and was supposed to be off work recovering from a workplace injury. The investigation found that Watkins did work for his business for two years while receiving compensation in violation of the program’s rules regarding returning to work.

The investigation also uncovered false payroll checks were being written by his wife, Terri Watkins. When Watkins was not qualified to receive the benefits, he reported to the BWC that he was employed with TRW Supreme Homes, a business owned by his wife. Terri Watkins was writing payroll checks to Mike Watkins so that he could submit them to BWC in order to qualify for living maintenance wage loss benefits. This benefit is available to an injured worker who has completed a rehabilitation plan but continues to have physical restrictions and experiences a wage loss upon return to work. SID discovered the checks were never cashed but just used as “proof” of wages so that Watkins could receive benefits to which he was not entitled.

Mike Watkins pleaded guilty to one count workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, on Dec. 16, 2015 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which was suspended for five years of community control. The restitution owed to BWC is $77,339.43 and $7,234.90 in investigative costs for a total of $84,574.33. Prior to the plea, Watkins’ attorney gave a check totaling $30,000 to the Attorney General to be paid toward the amount he owed. The conditions of community control are that he pay the remaining balance of $54,574.33, maintain employment and have no new arrests or convictions.

Terri Watkins earlier pleaded guilty to one count complicity to commit workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, on June 15, 2015. The judge found her guilty and ordered her to repay restitution of $16,192.00 and $7,234.90 in investigative costs, for a total of $23,426.90. She provided a check to the court. As her restitution was paid in full, the judge ordered her to pay $30 in court costs and sentenced her to time served.

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

Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com and view BWC’s workers’ comp fraud awareness video on YouTube.

 

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.