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Posts Tagged ‘Surveillance’

BWC Investigations Result in 13 Workers’ Comp Fraud Convictions in October

 Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer today announced 13 individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system during October. The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s special investigations department (SID). The department works to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud. The cases bring total convictions in calendar year 2011 to 114.

“Cases like these remind us why detecting and prosecuting fraud must be a very high priority,” said Buehrer. “Whether it’s an injured worker, an employer or provider, it is incredible that anyone would game the system to gain something is not rightfully theirs, at the expense of others who end up paying the bill.”

Below is a sampling of cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during October.

James Landis (Canfield, Mahoning County) pleaded guilty Oct. 24 to a felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. An anonymous tip led to an investigation into whether Landis was working at his business, Mum’s The Word Florist, while receiving workers’ comp benefits. Landis stated on multiple occasions that he was incapable of working in any capacity. However, SID verified Landis was the primary operator of the business while on temporary total disability. He interacted with customers, arranged and delivered flowers, set up floral displays at events, and did all administrative paperwork. Landis is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 15. As a condition of his sentencing, he has agreed to repay $8,065.81 in investigative costs. He has repaid 19,000 he received improperly.

Roger Bolin (Nelsonville, Athens County) pleaded guilty Oct. 17 to workers’ compensation fraud and deception to obtain after he filed a false claim to receive narcotic prescriptions. SID received an allegation from an employer indicating Bolin filed a false claim. He indicated he was injured in September 2010, although he not worked for the company since June. Investigators obtained documentation showing Bolin did file a false claim and obtained a narcotic prescription by deception. The Hocking County Common Pleas Court sentenced Bolin to eight months prison to run consecutively on each count. Bolin is currently serving a prison sentence related to a parole violation. The court ordered the new charges to be served consecutively to this sentence.

Donald Johnson (Trenton, Butler County) was sentenced Oct. 17 for deceptively obtaining numerous BWC paid narcotics from multiple physicians and using multiple pharmacies. SID identified Johnson for possible doctor shopping for narcotic drugs and an investigation revealed his deception to obtain narcotics. Johnson agreed in the Butler County Common Pleas Court to pay restitution owed the amount of $2,177.86.

Daniel Engle (Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID opened an investigation after a BWC claims service specialist noted that Engle’s employer, the city of Shaker Heights, submitted a letter prepared by Engle. In the letter, Engle informed the city that he was resigning to start his own computer business. SID’s investigation verified Engle owned and operated DNC Computer while receiving BWC temporary total disability benefits. He claimed he was incapable of working in any capacity. Investigators established that Engle repaired computers, sold computers, and sold computer parts. Additionally, Deluxe Transportation/New Valley Taxi employed Engle as a taxi driver. Engle entered a guilty plea in Franklin County Municipal. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail suspended in lieu of three years probation. The court also ordered Engle to pay a $75 fine, court costs and investigative costs in the amount of $4,000. Engle has paid $15,500 in restitution.

Thomas McAllister (Amsterdam, Jefferson County) was sentenced for deception to obtain dangerous drugs. BWC’s intelligence unit began investigating McAllister after suspecting he was receiving narcotic prescriptions from several physicians and pharmacies. The investigation confirmed that McAllister used deception to obtain narcotic medication from various prescribing physicians. On Oct. 12, McAllister entered a plea of guilty to deception to obtain dangerous drugs, a fifth degree felony. The parties agreed to $424 in restitution. McAllister will be sentenced Nov. 30.

Mark Robinson (Fairfield, Butler County), pleaded guilty Oct. 2 to one count workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. Robinson worked as a general contractor for Bed and Breakfast properties in Hamilton while collecting temporary total disability. He performed maintenance and contractor work at various rental properties. Robinson paid back the full criminal overpayment of $6,463.25 and investigative costs of $1,207.38 for a total of $7,670.63 restitution paid to the BWC.

Daren Snyder (Chillicothe, Ross County) pleaded guilty Oct. 3 in a Franklin County courtroom to fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID opened an investigation after receiving an allegation indicating Snyder was working while receiving temporary total disability and living maintenance. Investigators found Snyder did return to work as a self-employed plumber during the period he received benefits. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 2.

If you suspect anyone is committing workers’ compensation fraud, let us know. You may report it online at http://bit.ly/reportfraud or you may speak with a fraud hotline agent by calling 1-800-OHIOBWC.

https://www.ohiobwc.com/home/current/releases/2011/111511a.asp

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Toledo Man Caught on Camera Roofing While on Workers’ Comp

October 18, 2011 1 comment

Daniel Uribes sentenced in fraud case

A Toledo (Lucas County) man has been sentenced in a fraud case after investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) captured video not only showing him working a roofing job while receiving benefits, but also leaving the worksite to attend a hearing on his workers’ comp case, and later returning to finish the job. The investigation, conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) resulted in a guilty plea by Daniel Uribes, who was sentenced the Toledo Municipal Court last week.

“It is ironic that our investigators were able to catch Uribes on tape taking a break from his illegal work activity to attend a hearing related to his workers’ compensation case,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer.  “It is also telling of the lengths some will go when committing fraud, and a reminder to us of the importance of our work to put an end to it.”

Uribes became the subject of an investigation after SID obtained evidence that he engaged in roofing work with his father while receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits for a workplace injury.  A surveillance operation showed Uribes was performing roofing work at a residence in Toledo.  During the surveillance, Uribes left the job site to travel to downtown Toledo and attend his Industrial Commission hearing on a separate issue related to his incarceration while collecting disability.  After the hearing, the investigators followed Uribes back to the work site, where he returned to work on the roof and more video was obtained. 

Uribes originally pleaded not guilty but withdrew and entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of workers’ compensation fraud.  The judge sentenced Mr. Uribes to ten days in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, with credit for time served.  Mr. Uribes had already paid his full restitution of $3,254.30. 

If you suspect that a subject is committing workers’ compensation fraud, let us know. You may report it online at http://bit.ly/reportfraud or you may speak with a fraud hotline agent by calling 1-800-OHIOBWC.

https://www.ohiobwc.com/home/current/releases/2011/101811.asp

Lake County Man Caught on Camera Running Catering Business While on Workers’ Comp

September 9, 2011 2 comments

Duane Funtash must repay more than $76,000

COLUMBUS – A surveillance operation conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Special Investigations Department (SID) landed a Lake County man in a Cuyahoga County courtroom recently to be sentenced for running a business while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Duane Funtash must repay BWC more than $76,000 for fraudulently receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits after the video that was key to his conviction showed he was running Dar’s Catering in Painesville.

“Work of any kind while receiving disability benefits is prohibited, and if an injured worker is able to operate a business, there is a clear question as to whether those benefits are justified,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer.  “If the rules alone aren’t enough to deter those who would commit fraud, the prospect of being exposed through an investigation may make them think twice.”

SID began surveillance of Funtash after receiving an allegation that his name appeared on a website for Dar’s Catering. The website claimed the company was owned and operated by Funtash’s wife, Regina, however Funtash’s email address was listed as the company contact. Surveillance and undercover operations confirmed that Funtash was operating Dar’s Catering while receiving benefits for a prior workplace injury.   Funtash was observed working in every aspect of the business, including coordinating events, cooking and event preparation.

Funtash pleaded guilty in August to a felony count of workers’ compensation fraud in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. He was later ordered by Judge Nancy Russo to pay restitution of $67,340.15 and investigative costs of $9,470.69.  In addition, he was sentenced to two years of community control, monthly reporting probation and random drug/alcohol testing.

To report fraud online, please visit: http://bit.ly/reportfraud.
To speak with a fraud hotline agent, please call: 1-800-OHIOBWC.

Surveillance Video Captures Cleveland Man Committing Workers’ Comp Fraud

Paneto SurveillanceA Cleveland man has been sentenced after an undercover investigation captured video showing his work remodeling homes during a time in which he was receiving workers’ compensation benefits and claimed to be incapable of working. Luiz Paneto pleaded guilty to a fourth degree felony of workers’ compensation fraud in March and was ordered Friday to repay more than $43,000 he fraudulently received from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

“Workers’ comp fraud comes in many forms, and we will utilize all of our resourcesto detect, investigate and deter deception wherever it exists,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer. “Filing false or exaggerated claims are forms of fraud that are especially disturbing, given there are so many who would like to return to work but have very real injuries that keep them from their livelihoods.”

Paneto was working in construction for a general contractor when he sustained a workplace injury in 2001. He received Temporary Total Disability and Living Maintenance benefits from that time until he was granted Permanent Total Disability in 2007.

Paneto Undercover StillBWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) received an anonymous complaint in 2009 stating that Paneto was working for a home remodeling company as a laborer and home remodeler. SID conducted surveillance and Paneto was seen walking, lifting heavy construction materials, driving his truck, and performing work as a home remodeler at numerous houses.

Paneto was interviewed at a job site in April, 2010 and admitted to working in violation of his receipt of BWC benefits. He admitted he was doing the same work he had done prior to his injury, and stated he knew he was prohibited from working while receiving Permanent Total Disability benefits. Paneto later attended a BWC hearing on his case wearing a large ankle brace and using the cane to walk.

Luiz Paneto was sentenced on April 29 in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to five years of community control and ordered to pay restitution of $24,122.47 and another $19,517.67 for investigative costs.

To report fraud online, please visit: http://bit.ly/reportfraud.
To speak with a fraud hotline agent, please call: 1-800-OHIOBWC.

http://www.ohiobwc.com/home/current/releases/2011/050211.asp