Columbus, OH – A Youngstown (Mahoning County) man who pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud has been ordered to repay more than $6,000 or face jail time. William Vargas was receiving Living Maintenance Wage Loss benefits due to a workplace injury but was found to be altering wage statements in order to receive benefits for periods in which he did not work. Living Maintenance is paid to an injured worker while they are participating in a vocational rehabilitation plan.
“Living Maintenance can be a useful part of a vocational rehabilitation plan to assist injured workers in returning to work and maintaining their jobs,” said Steve Buehrer, Administrator/CEO of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). “However, accurate reporting of income is important and altering records to skew benefits in your favor is not only misrepresenting the facts, it constitutes fraud.”
BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) received an allegation from a claims service specialist who managed Vargas’ workers’ compensation claim. The BWC employee noticed irregularities in paystub information being submitted by Vargas for his employment with Niles Manufacturing and Signs by Tomorrow. The employee specifically noted that the “year-to-date” earnings listed on the paystubs did not change from week to week.
SID found that Vargas purposely altered paystubs and wage statements so that he could receive Living Maintenance Wage Loss benefits for periods in which he did not work, and therefore did not incur a wage loss. Investigators also found that Vargas worked for GLI Pool Products during the time period he concurrently received living maintenance benefits. He was not permitted to work while receiving living maintenance benefits.
William Vargas pleaded guilty April 26 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, suspended for two years of community control. As a condition of community control, he is required to repay $6,107.46 in restitution.
Source: Ohio BWC