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BWC secures 7 fraud convictions in April

Fraudsters ordered to pay BWC nearly $107,000 in restitution

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation secured seven fraud convictions in April, all workers who were discovered working for a living while collecting disability benefits from the agency.

Those convicted were ordered to pay BWC a combined total of $106,995 in restitution.

“We look forward to recouping those dollars so they can serve a legitimate purpose – taking care of injured workers,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud.

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

Clinton Walker of Cincinnati, Ohio
Walker pleaded guilty April 25 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was ordered to pay BWC $9,831 in restitution and $3,600 in investigative costs. He provided a cashier’s check to BWC at his hearing for the full amount.

Ernest Thomas of Boardman, Ohio
Thomas pleaded guilty April 23 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended for six months of probation, and ordered to pay a $500 fine and court costs. Thomas paid restitution and investigative costs totaling $10,605 to BWC at the time of his plea.

Michael D. Myers of Lebanon, Ohio
Myers pleaded guilty April 22 to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in Franklin County after BWC found him working while collecting disability benefits in 2016 and 2017. A judge ordered Myers to pay BWC $45,338 in restitution, perform 25 hours of community service and serve one year of probation in lieu of six months in prison.

Antonio Daniels of Streetsboro, Ohio
Daniels 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 Daniels to pay BWC $6,409 in restitution and serve five years of probation in lieu of 30 days in jail.

Kristin Stuhldreher of Youngstown, Ohio
Stuhldreher pleaded guilty April 16 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators found her working as a restaurant manager while collecting BWC disability benefits. A judge ordered her to pay BWC $18,239 in restitution and serve five years of probation.

Amanda Treadway of Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Treadway was ordered to pay BWC $5,010 in restitution after pleading guilty April 4 to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. BWC discovered Treadway working as a swimming pool attendant at a condominium complex in 2017 and also as a phlebotomist while collecting BWC disability benefits.

Antoine Harris of Cincinnati, Ohio
Harris was convicted of a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud April 3 after BWC found him working as a truck driver while collecting disability benefits. Harris paid BWC $7,963 in restitution prior to his guilty plea. A judge subsequently terminated Harris’s sentence of one month of probation.

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.

Southwest Ohio man guilty of workers’ comp fraud

Lebanon man owes BWC more than $45,000 in restitution

A Lebanon man owes the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $45,000 after pleading guilty April 22 to workers’ compensation fraud.

Michael Dwayne Myers, 49, pleaded guilty to the fifth-degree felony in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas after BWC found him working for a Lebanon fire and water damage restoration company while collecting disability benefits in 2016 and 2017.

“The State Insurance Fund is for workers who are truly injured and need benefits to survive, not for people looking to unlawfully double dip and pad their income,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud.

A judge ordered Myers to pay BWC $45,338 in restitution, perform 25 hours of community service and serve one year of probation in lieu of six months in prison.

In other news:

A Cincinnati man was ordered to pay BWC $13,432 in restitution after pleading guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud Monday.

A Franklin County judge ordered Clinton Walker to pay $9,831 in restitution for benefits he received while working for several employers from 2012 to 2015. Walker also must pay $3,600 in investigative costs. He provided a cashier’s check to BWC at his hearing for full restitution.

A Mahoning County man pleaded guilty April 23 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC investigators found him working as a maintenance technician while collecting BWC benefits.

A county judge sentenced Ernest Thomas to six months of community control (probation) and ordered him to pay a $500 fine and court costs. Thomas paid restitution and investigative costs totaling $10,605 to BWC at the time of his plea.

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

Employer compliance supervisor is BWC’s Fraud Finder of the Year

By Jeff Baker, Program Administrator, BWC Special Investigations Department

An employer compliance supervisor in the Cincinnati Service Office received the 2018 Fraud Finder of the Year award Feb. 21 from BWC’s special investigations department (SID).

The supervisor received the award for alerting SID to a case in which an employer failed to report payroll and failed to respond to multiple attempts to schedule a premium audit. An investigation by the SID employer fraud team revealed the employer was operating without coverage. The referral resulted in the identification and recovery of $316,103 in savings to the state insurance fund.

“Thanks to this employee’s vigilance and timely referral, we were able to stop fraud in its tracks and save the BWC system hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said SID Director Jim Wernecke. “Our success in uncovering fraud protects resources needed to create safe workplaces in Ohio and to care for those who are legitimately injured on the job.”

The BWC employee, who supervises field staff members assigned to the BWC employer compliance department, said he was honored to receive the award.

“I am truly honored to be recognized for simply doing my job and trying to do my part, while seemingly small, to safeguard the State Insurance Fund,” the employee said. He offered the following advice to any BWC employee who suspects fraud: “Trust your gut.”

SID received 3,150 allegations of fraud in 2018. About a fifth of those came from BWC personnel around the state. These included claims representatives, employer representatives and others who suspected illicit behavior on the part of injured workers, employers, health care providers or others connected to the BWC system. During 2018, SID closed 381 cases referred by 169 BWC employees. The investigations resulted in 192 “founded cases” (the original allegation was proven true) and identified $3.1 million in savings to the BWC system

To show their appreciation, SID leaders conducted a thank-you tour and red-flag training from November through February, presenting Fraud Finder Award certificates to BWC employees in service offices across Ohio.

“We encourage all BWC employees and the general public to contact us immediately if they suspect fraudulent behavior in our system, even the slightest hint of it,” said Director Wernecke. “We will conduct a thorough investigation, and the sooner we get started, the better.”

To report suspected cases of workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 (then select option 0, option 4, option 1) or visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.