Columbus, OH – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer recently announced that seven individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in September 2015. These court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID).
“The cases this month show workers’ comp fraud comes in many forms, including businesses that don’t maintain coverage to protect their workers,” said Buehrer. “We’ll continue to fight this kind of fraud, just as we intend to put a stop to any claimants who knowingly return to work in order to maintain their workers’ comp benefits.”
The following is a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during September:
Joshua W Shoaff, dba JWS Window Cleaning, (Uniontown, Stark County) pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to one first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for altering his certificate of coverage. SID received an allegation from the BWC Safety Violations Investigations Unit that Shoaff’s business, JWS Window Cleaning, had multiple claims filed against the business and its policy had lapsed. The Employer Fraud Team’s investigation found a BWC certificate of coverage that had been intentionally altered by the employer in attempt to show valid BWC coverage to a potential client. Shoaff was sentenced in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas to probation and ordered to continue making payments on the outstanding debt owed to BWC after he took the necessary steps to reinstate his policy.
Patrice Myers (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Sept. 9 to one first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating after receiving an allegation that Myers was working at a pharmacy while receiving benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation found that Myers did work at the pharmacy while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Claimants are not permitted to work while receiving this type of benefit. SID obtained employment records that confirmed Myers was paid every two weeks and worked approximately 30 to 40 hours per week during the same time period she received the benefits. Myers was ordered in a Franklin County courtroom to pay $7,566.24 in restitution to BWC, and sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for five years of community control.
Brent Taylor (Nelsonville, Athens County) pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Taylor was engaged in work activity while he was receiving temporary total disability benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation revealed Taylor knowingly engaged in work activities while receiving this benefit that does not permit a return to work. Specifically, the investigation confirmed he worked as a girls’ basketball coach and provided lawn care services while concealing his activities from BWC. A Franklin County judge placed Taylor on five years of community control and ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution, with $13,500 to be paid at the time of the plea, in addition to $1,750 in investigative costs. Taylor submitted $13,500 to the Franklin County Clerk’s Office prior to his plea.
Angel Cardona (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Sept. 22 to one fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID initiated an investigation after receiving an allegation that Cardona was working and receiving compensation at the same time. The investigation, which included surveillance, a review of bank records and interviews, found Cardona was gainfully employed with Marvin Cruz and Mountaineer Framing and Roofing during periods for which he also received temporary total and living maintenance benefits. The evidence obtained during the course of the investigation revealed Cardona intentionally misrepresented and withheld his employment in order to collect BWC benefits. Cardona was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended, for four years of community control. He was also ordered to pay $83,892.86 in restitution to BWC.
Source: Ohio BWC SID