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Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’

Construction worker’s fraud scheme collapses

A Marion man who claimed to be permanently disabled owes the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) $160,000 after pleading guilty Wednesday to a fourth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud.

Appearing in a Franklin County courtroom, Jimmie Rankin, 45, was also sentenced to five years of community control for collecting BWC benefits after he had gone back to work in the construction industry and deliberately withheld that information from BWC.

“We found Mr. Rankin working as a subcontractor and getting paid with cash and checks made out to other people so he could avoid a paper trail and stay beneath our radar,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s Special Investigations Department. “But thanks in part to tips from honest citizens, we were able to stop this fraud and bring Mr. Rankin to justice.”

Working with Rankin’s employers, investigators determined Rankin had been employed at least since March 2011, a little more than three years after his workplace injury and while he was collecting temporary disability benefits. He later secured permanent total disability benefits from BWC and, while working, collected those benefits from June 2012 to May 2016.

A judged warned Rankin that if he violates the terms of his community control, he would serve 18 months in prison.

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

Coal miner digs himself a hole in fraud scheme

A former coal miner from northeast Ohio owes the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $40,000 after BWC investigators found him creating phony employment records to secure BWC cash benefits.

Steven R. Kornbau, 50, of Mahoning County, pleaded guilty March 28 to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. A judge ordered Kornbau to reimburse BWC $40,514 and sentenced him to six months in jail, which he then suspended for five years of community control.

“As Mr. Kornbau’s case shows, some people get creative in trying to cheat the workers’ compensation system” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “But that’s no match for our investigators and claims personnel who are trained to detect suspicious claims and stop fraud when they see it. The funds we recover from this case will return to where they belong — taking care of injured workers and creating safe workplaces across this state.”

Kornbau’s case centers around “working wage-loss benefits” he received from Dec. 1, 2014 until April 2, 2016. These benefits are designed to make up the difference in wages between the injured worker’s job at the time of injury and the job following recovery if it pays less.

Kornbau, a coal miner when he was injured in 2009, was supposed to be working, or at least actively looking for work, to receive the benefits. Instead, Kornbau created a fictitious company called Anderson’s Windows and Doors and submitted phony payroll records to BWC as evidence he was working. BWC staff noticed inconsistencies in the records in the summer of 2015 and contacted the agency’s Special Investigations Department.

Investigators quickly determined the company was fake, and Kornbau confessed as much during questioning.

In other recent fraud cases:

  • Robert Lester, of Columbus, pleaded guilty April 4 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for filing two false claims for BWC benefits. Lester filed the claims stating he was injured at work, when, in fact, he was not employed at the time of his alleged injuries. A judge sentenced him to 13 days in jail and gave him credit for 13 days served.
  • Shawn Lines, 41, of Ashtabula, pleaded guilty April 3 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving temporary disability benefits. A Franklin County judge ordered Lines to reimburse BWC $5,370 in minimum payments of at least $125 a month.
  • Ronnie Simmons Jr., of Cleveland, owner of Simmons Adult Care, pleaded guilty March 29 to a minor misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud for failing to carry proper workers’ compensation insurance. Following a judge’s order, he paid his outstanding balance of $3,587 to BWC.

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

Try as he might, tree trimmer can’t cheat BWC and get away with it

Akron man earns second conviction for fraudulent activity

An Akron tree trimmer with a history of cheating the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) owes more than $17,000 in restitution to the state agency following his guilty plea last month in a Summit County courtroom.

Matthew Mueller, 46, of Mueller Tree & Landscape, pleaded guilty Feb. 16 in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fourth degree felony. The conviction, Mueller’s second on similar charges since 2005, followed a BWC investigation that found Mueller under-reported his payroll to lower his BWC premiums by thousands of dollars.

“It’s unfortunate that one criminal conviction isn’t enough for some people to learn a lesson,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “The funds we recover from Mr. Mueller will go to their proper place — taking care of injured workers and creating safe workplaces across this state.”

A judge sentenced Mueller to 24 months of community control and ordered him to pay $17,366 in restitution to BWC. Mueller also must bring his business into compliance with Ohio workers’ compensation law.

The employer fraud unit of BWC’s Special Investigations Department got a tip in 2012 that Mueller was intentionally under-reporting his payroll. BWC found he was misclassifying employees as subcontractors and advised him how to correctly report his payroll. Three years later, however, BWC found Mueller misclassifying his employees and again under-reporting his payroll, this time by nearly $40,000 for the first half of 2015 alone.

Mueller’s earlier troubles with BWC resulted in a guilty plea in August 2005 to forgery, tampering with records and failure to pay workers’ compensation coverage. He was sentenced to eight months incarceration, suspended, and two years of probation.

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

Burglar adds workers’ comp fraud to rap sheet

A Cincinnati man serving time in an Indiana prison for burglary got a short break from prison March 9, but only to plead guilty to workers’ compensation fraud in an Ohio courtroom.

John Dillard Lewis, 47, pleaded guilty to the fifth-degree felony in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, where a judge sentenced him to nine months incarceration, to be served concurrent with his Indiana case. Lewis’s 2015 indictment followed an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation that found Lewis had been working for a Wendy’s restaurant while collecting $32,532 in BWC benefits from June 17, 2013 to Aug. 12, 2014.

Lewis was injured on the job in 2011 while working in a factory. BWC’s Special Investigations Department learned he was working while receiving BWC benefits from a database cross match with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. He was indicted in Ohio in 2015 but failed to show for court. Investigators later learned he was in the Indiana prison.

Lewis is serving a nearly six-year sentence in the Branchville Correctional Prison in Indiana for a fourth-degree burglary conviction in Ohio County, Indiana. He was sentenced there last year.

In other recent BWC fraud cases:

  • Patrick Fachman of Columbus pleaded guilty Tuesday to a first-degree count of workers’ compensation fraud for filing two false workers’ comp claims against an employer he no longer worked for. A judge sentenced Fachman to one day of jail time, credited him with one day served, and waived fines and court costs.
  • The owner of a Columbus asphalt company pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud Feb. 27 after investigators found he had falsified a BWC certificate of coverage to secure a job contract. A judge fined Anthony Evans of A1 Asphalt & Co. $100 and ordered him to pay $134 in court fees.
  • Frank Massingill of Burton, Ohio, was found guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor charge of failure to comply with the law on Jan. 23 for not carrying proper BWC coverage for his business. BWC’s employer fraud team agents tried to work with Massingill to bring him into compliance, but he wouldn’t cooperate. A judge sentenced Massingill to one year of probation and ordered him to pay fees owed to BWC. Massingill also must comply with workers’ compensation rules and regulations, obey all laws and not permanently leave the state without the court’s permission.

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

5 convicted on work comp fraud charges in February

Convictions result of BWC investigations

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation secured five convictions in February of Ohioans who cheated the agency out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Those convicted include a Cleveland chiropractor who billed for services he didn’t provide, a longtime injured worker who ran a lawn care business and an injured school bus driver who worked for a limousine service without telling BWC he was working again.

“We’re in the business of taking care of people who are legitimately injured, not subsidizing cheats trying to make an easy buck,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “Any money we recover from these cases will go back to the State Insurance Fund for injured workers and workplace safety initiatives.”

Including February’s total, BWC’s Special Investigations Department has secured 24 convictions so far this calendar year. February’s convictions include:

Michael C. Wilson of Cleveland, Services Not Rendered
Wilson, a chiropractor, refunded BWC more than $57,000 on Feb. 15 and agreed to stop treating injured workers in the BWC system after pleading guilty to workers’ compensation fraud in a Franklin County courtroom. Investigators found Wilson falsified treatment notes and billed for services he didn’t provide. He pleaded guilty to a minor misdemeanor charge of workers’ compensation fraud rather than go to trial.

Jason Neagles of Marion, Working and Receiving
Neagles pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor charge of workers’ compensation fraud Feb. 21 after investigators discovered him working as a high school bowling coach while collecting BWC benefits. A Franklin County judge ordered him to pay BWC $1,587 for the cost of the agency’s investigation. He also warned Neagles to pay BWC within 90 days or face 90 days in jail.

Robert Campbell of Pickerington, Working and Receiving
Investigators found Campbell, who was injured on the job in 1984, owned and worked a lawn care business while collecting permanent total disability benefits from BWC. He pleaded guilty Feb. 13 to one count of workers compensation fraud, a fifth degree felony, and was ordered to pay $93,457 in restitution to BWC. A Franklin County judge also sentenced him to two years community control.

Robert Willie Jr. of Columbus, Working and Receiving
Investigators found Willie, a school bus driver when he was injured on the job in 2010, working as a limousine driver and office clerk while receiving injured workers’ benefits. He pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to a fifth-degree charge of workers’ compensation fraud. A Franklin County judge ordered him to reimburse BWC $80,000 and serve five years probation.

Beverly Ritchie of Tiffin, Working and Receiving
Ritchie pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found her working for a doctor’s office while receiving temporary disability benefits. The judge ordered her to pay BWC $5,340 in restitution, which she paid immediately.

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

Man’s claim of mistaken identity fools no one; ordered to pay $22K to BWC

Tuesday a busy day in court for BWC with 4 fraud convictions

small-gavelA Knox County man caught scamming the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and trying to lie his way out of it was ordered to reimburse the agency $22,578 Tuesday and to pay $1,000 of it within six months or spend six months in jail.

“If we’re knocking on your door with a fraud allegation, lying won’t help your case,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “We are determined to stop fraud when we find it and to return any ill-gotten resources to their rightful purpose — taking care of injured workers and increasing workplace safety in this state.”

In one of four BWC court cases Tuesday, Scott Wells, 40, pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas — but not before blaming his cousin for the trouble he had gotten into.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department discovered Wells had been working as a truck driver while receiving BWC benefits when his name popped up in a state database showing his semi tractor-trailer had been stopped for an inspection by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. When confronted by investigators, Wells claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. He told agents his cousin had needed a job but didn’t have a commercial driver’s license, so he lent his license to his cousin and that’s who was stopped by PUCO in November 2013.

Wells’ cousin would not corroborate his story, however, nor would the trucking company and employment records.

In other fraud convictions Tuesday, all in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas:

matthew-buckman-booking-photo

Matthew Buckman

Matthew Buckman of Columbus pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud after BWC investigators found that he worked for two different employers at various times since 2013 while receiving injured workers’ benefits. Among his jobs, he worked as a full-time appliance installer, with no known physical limitations, from Feb. 14, 2014 to March 16, 2015. A judge sentenced Buckman to 60 days in jail, suspended, and ordered him to pay $2,710 in restitution to BWC.

enriquetta-valentine-booking-photo

Enriquetta Valentine

Enriquetta Valentine of Columbus was sentenced to one year of community control and ordered to pay $1,129 in restitution to BWC after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving BWC benefits.

Beverly J. Ritchie of Tiffin in northwest Ohio pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. The judge ordered her to pay $5,340 in restitution, which she paid immediately.

In another recent fraud case, a Cleveland-area man on Feb. 23 was ordered to pay $28,669 in court costs and restitution to BWC after investigators found him working as a hotel maintenance engineer while receiving temporary total disability benefits from July 2, 2014 through Nov. 29, 2015.

davis

Willie A. Davis Jr.

A Franklin County judge also sentenced Willie A. Davis Jr., 58, of Bedford, to five years of community control and a suspended jail sentence of one year. Davis pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in January.

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

Cleveland chiropractor convicted of workers’ comp fraud

Michael C. Wilson billed for phony services 

bakerA Cleveland chiropractor refunded the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation more than $57,000 on Feb. 15 and agreed to stop treating injured workers in the BWC system after pleading guilty to workers’ compensation fraud in a Franklin County courtroom.

Following a judge’s orders, Michael C. Wilson, 44, reimbursed BWC $10,862 he received for services he never rendered to injured workers. He also paid BWC $46,534 for the cost of the agency’s investigation into his fraudulent practices, which included falsifying treatment notes and billing for services he couldn’t have performed because he was out of the country.

“It is disappointing when health care providers place greed and personal gain over patient care and the public’s trust,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “This kind of misconduct undermines our mission because it takes resources intended for injured workers and our efforts to create safer workplaces across this state.”

Not included in Wilson’s restitution is another $8,784 he received from BWC for phony services, but only because he hadn’t cashed the checks yet.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department began investigating Wilson in January 2014, using undercover operations, interviews with injured workers, surveillance and a search warrant executed at Wilson’s clinic — the Good Health Chiropractic & Therapy Center at 15728 Lorain Ave. — to arrive at its findings.

Wilson, who was indicted in August, pleaded guilty to a minor misdemeanor charge of workers’ compensation fraud rather than go to trial.

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