Columbus, OH – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer recently announced eight individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in June. The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s special investigations department (SID). The department works to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud.
“It is disappointing that anyone – employers, providers, or claimants – would try to cheat the system,” said Buehrer. “It is also unacceptable and why BWC continues to keep such a strong focus on curbing fraud and protecting the State Insurance Fund.”
Following are the cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during June.
James Warren (Rock Creek, Ashtabula County) pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation on its anonymous fraud hotline that Warren was transporting construction workers to various work sites and also repairing computers for an automobile dealership. Interviews of construction workers and a search of bank records found Warren was a “taxi driver” for them. Records showed Warren repairing computers for his friend’s auto dealership between April 2011 and September 2011. Warren was originally injured as a long distance truck driver. Warren was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for five years of community control. He was also ordered to pay $21,838.08 in restitution.
Scott Eddy (Parma, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty June 3 to 14 felony counts of deception to obtain dangerous drugs, and one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. SID received an allegation from the Parma Police Department that they had an open investigation on Scott Eddy for deception to obtain dangerous drugs, also known as doctor shopping. The police department’s investigation found BWC paid for narcotics that Eddy obtained by doctor shopping. SID investigators worked with the Parma police to research, compile and analyze the drug information. Eddy was granted treatment in lieu of conviction and sentenced to two years of community control.
Joshua Cox (Elsmere, Kentucky) pleaded guilty June 5 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one misdemeanor count of theft for submitting false job searches. SID received an allegation that Cox was working while falsifying job search documents in order to receive living maintenance benefits. These benefits are paid as part of a BWC rehabilitation plan. The investigation found Cox submitted 28 job search forms to BWC indicating he applied to 112 different employers looking for work between November 2011 and January 2012. SID contacted 27 of the employers listed on the job search forms and 23 of them indicated Cox never applied for a job, and verified that the contact person noted by Cox on the job search form was not an employee with its company. Moreover, there were several businesses that were closed or out of business when Cox allegedly applied. Cox was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended provided he pays $2,708.70 in restitution to BWC, and court costs by July 1, 2014.
Joseph Gaydos (Lakewood, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty June 4 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating after receiving an allegation that Gaydos was working at a metal fabricating shop while receiving benefits for a workplace injury. It was confirmed through employment records and interviews that Gaydos returned to work as a machine operator and a security guard while receiving temporary total disability and living maintenance benefits.
Gaydos was ordered to repay BWC $9,070.85 in restitution, in addition to $1,000 in investigative costs. He also received a suspended sentence of 30 days in jail.
Steven D. Gooding (Dennison, Tuscarawas County) pleaded guilty June 11 the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation from a Managed Care Organization indicating Gooding may be working a part time job while receiving temporary total disability compensation for a workplace injury. The investigation showed Gooding worked for Natale & Dickerhoof PPL performing maintenance and administrative work during periods when he was receiving the disability compensation. Gooding failed to notify BWC or his physician of his employment. Gooding was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $22,438.67, and sentenced 180 days in jail, suspended for three years of community control.
Joshua Schlosser (Lima, Allen County) pleaded guilty June 17 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. A wage cross match conducted with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services identified Schlosser as likely working while receiving benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation found Schlosser performed security work, was a meter reader and worked as a caretaker/maintenance technician for an apartment complex between May of 2007 and September of 2012. The judge placed Schlosser on community control for five years and ordered him to pay restitution to BWC in the amount of $28,919.56. Schlosser must also have a urine screen, maintain/obtain employment and remain violation-free, or he will serve 12 months in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Source: Ohio BWC SID