Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer today announced three individuals were convicted of defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system during the month of September. 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.
“Those convicted in September bilked the system for more than a quarter million dollars, showing the impact fraud can have on the State Insurance Fund,” said Buehrer. “While we are pleased that the justice system is ensuring the perpetrators in these cases are on the hook for repayment, fraud of any kind is simply intolerable and unfair to honest employers and injured workers.”
Following are two of the cases that resulted in a conviction during the month of September.
Obie Martin and Michael Collins (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) were sentenced for operating their business without valid workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Investigating an allegation of fraud, SID agents interviewed Obie Martin, owner of Obon, Inc., as well as the company’s payroll officer, Michael Collins. Agents discovered seven BWC certificates that had been altered and used by the business to obtain work contracts. Collins admitted to altering one certificate while Martin admitted to altering the other six. Both originally pleaded not guilty but later withdrew those pleas to plead guilty. Martin was sentenced October 13 to six months in prison, suspended for five years of probation. During this period, he is to repay the $236,757.34 in restitution. Michael Collins was sentenced to one day in jail, which was suspended for time served.
Marvin Pyle (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) was sentenced September 20 for working while receiving benefits. BWC’s Intelligence Unit identified Pyle as possibly working while checking records with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Those records showed he was stopped for a safety inspection while driving a truck for BTB Trucking (BTB). An investigation found Pyle had returned to Hamrick Truck Driving School as a full-time student and was employed as a truck driver for GV Trucking & Excavating Inc. and BTB, despite receiving temporary total disability benefits. Pyle provided false information to the BWC in order to obtain the benefits. Pyle pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempted workers’ compensation and was ordered repay more than $10,300. He was also sentenced to probation and a suspended 10 month prison sentence.