Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer today announced three individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system during the month of December. 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.
“Three more convictions round out 2011, a year during which BWC made great progress in demonstrating the seriousness of workers’ comp fraud and our willingness to pursue these crimes, making potential wrongdoers think twice about the consequences,” said Buehrer. “We look forward to pursuing fraud with equal vigor in 2012.”
Following are summaries of cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during the month of December.
Kelly Smith (Piketown, Pike County) was found guilty Dec. 16 in the Chillicothe Municipal Court of workers’ compensation fraud for filing a false claim. SID received an allegation from an employer that Smith filed a claim against their policy for a workplace injury although she had never worked for the company. Smith was unable to produce any documentation to prove he was an employee; therefore, the claim was denied. Investigators confirmed Smith was not an employee and had filed a false claim. Smith pleaded no contest and was given a $250 fine, one year of community control and 35 hours of community service.
William Hill (Chesterland, Geauga County), pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to a felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. Hill became the subject of an investigation after a BWC claims service specialist suspected he may be working for his own company while receiving temporary total disability benefits. An investigation verified the Chesterland man was operating Hill’s Contracting Company for three years in direct conflict with his disability benefits. Hill was ordered in a Franklin County Municipal Court to pay $131,919.43 in restitution and an additional $2,000 for investigative costs. He was also sentenced to five years of community control. As part of the agreement, Hill is ordered to pay $100 per month. If Hill does not comply with probation or make the required monthly payments, he will serve six months in prison.
Kenneth McElroy (Chardon, Geauga County), was sentenced Dec. 14 after pleading guilty to a felony count of theft for working while receiving benefits. SID opened an investigation into McElroy after learning he was self employed snow plowing and repairing lawn mower/landscape and construction equipment while receiving temporary total disability benefits. SID conducted numerous interviews confirming he was performing these services at his home and at customer’s residences. The Ohio Industrial Commission issued an order in October finding all benefits McElroy received for the period of more than five years had been overpaid. Additionally, his benefits were terminated due to a finding of fraud. A Franklin County judge ordered McElroy to pay $80,000 in restitution and sentenced him to five years of community control and a suspended a six month prison sentence.
Source: Ohio BWC