Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer today announced eight individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system during the month of August. The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID), which works to deter, detect, investigate, and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud.
“Eight more convictions during the month of August are the result of close monitoring of suspicious activity by our investigators and detailed follow-up on allegations of fraud,” said Buehrer. “Their diligence helps to protect the State Insurance Fund on behalf of Ohio injured workers and employers.”
Following is a sampling of cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during the month of August.
Cecil Webb (Dayton, Montgomery County) pleaded guilty to eleven felony counts of deception to obtain a dangerous drug and one first degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. The SID originally received an allegation that Webb may have been working while collecting disability benefits. During the investigation, investigators identified numerous instances in which Webb sought narcotics from three different physicians and one nurse practitioner over the same period of time. The investigation also revealed that Webb utilized four different pharmacies in the Dayton area to conceal his deception. Webb was ordered to pay $1,689.39 in restitution and mandated that all his medications be verified and taken as prescribed. The court also ordered Webb to comply with treatment, seek employment or show medical documentation that he cannot work, and comply with a curfew and a child support order.
Robert Black, DBA Mallard Home Services (Westlake, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud for operating his business without coverage. BWC received an allegation that Black was operating Mallard Home Services although his coverage had been canceled. Surveillance conducted at this business revealed it was fully operational. BWC later received an allegation that an altered certificate of coverage was provided to a Mallard customer. Investigators interviewed the customer and obtained a copy of an altered Mallard workers’ compensation certificate. Agents interviewed Black, who indicated the altered certificate was a clerical error on his part, and then admitted to operating a business while his business’ coverage was in final cancel status and submitting false payroll and other information to BWC. Black pleaded guilty in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas on August 23. Sentencing is scheduled for September 29, 2011.
Dr. John Esarco, DC (Youngstown, Mahoning County) pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud for billing for services not rendered. SID received an allegation that Esarco, a chiropractor, was improperly billing BWC and executed a search warrant to analyze medical records and interview patients. The investigation found Esarco was billing for exercise therapy, a service which he did not perform. Esarco pleaded guilty August 22 and was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended, and ordered to pay restitution. Esarco provided a check for $44,184.80 at the hearing to satisfy the ordered restitution. Esarco also signed a voluntary BWC decertification letter, which decertifies him as a BWC provider.
George Seiber (Brunswick, Medina County) pleaded guilty to working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation from a BWC employee who suspected Seiber of working, and an investigation found he was employed with Roofer Inc.com while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Seiber owned and operated the company and performed work activities including contacting customers, appraising roofs, preparing proposals, supervising staff, and handling money transactions. Seiber pleaded guilty August 10, 2011 in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. His sentencing is scheduled for September 22.
Dana Fordenwalt (West Salem, Wayne County) , owner of Twin Peaks Roofing, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors for failure to comply with the law for underpaying his workers’ compensation and misrepresenting the number of workers employed by his business. BWC investigators determined that over a period of three years Fordenwalt did pay his premium but was knowingly underpaying by submitting false payroll documentation. Sentencing is pending. Fordenwalt is no longer in business.
Source: Ohio BWC