Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer recently announced five individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in August. 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.
“Investigating and putting a stop fraud helps protect the benefits of injured workers and keep employers’ premiums down,” said Buehrer. “Those who break the rules are interfering with our ability to serve Ohio’s employers and truly injured workers.”
Following is a sampling of the cases that resulted in a guilty plea or conviction during August.
Angel Ocasio (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty Aug. 14 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. In July 2010 SID received an anonymous allegation indicating Ocasio operated his own car repair and tow company while receiving BWC benefits. Investigators found Ocasio returned to work as a self employed tow truck driver and auto mechanic from May 2010 through October 2011 while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Ocasio was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years of community control. As a condition of community control, he must repay BWC $15,679.
Randy Bartosh (Coraopolis, Pennsylvania) pleaded guilty Aug. 15 in Franklin County to one count of workers’ compensation fraud and one count of theft for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating the former Columbiana (Columbiana/Mahoning Counties) man after a confidential source contacted the fraud hotline advising he was engaging physical activity inconsistent with his complaints to doctors in his workers’ compensation claim. Investigators conducted internet searches, undercover operations and obtained bank records discovering that Bartosh owned a tattoo shop called 213’s Tattoo U in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Bartosh tattooed customers, and managed business and marketing operations. The Ohio Industrial Commission found Bartosh was overpaid and ordered him to return $4,541.70, which has since been repaid to BWC. A judge ordered him to pay a $100 fine.
Bob Morgan (Holland, Lucas County) pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud Aug. 6 for working while receiving benefits. SID received information that Morgan was a martial arts instructor, and had been teaching mixed martial arts at Donnelly’s USA Martial Arts in Holland and American Kenpo in Toledo. There were instructional videos and a news cast showing Morgan engaged in physical martial arts instruction while collecting disability for a neck and low back injury from September 2008 to July 2009. In a statement to the court, Morgan admitted that he committed fraud. He was sentenced to a suspended six month term incarceration at the Correctional center of Northwest Ohio, and 30 days of electronic monitoring. As part of his probation, he was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, to seek and maintain gainful verifiable employment, and to pay restitution in the amount of $3,157.70. Morgan paid $300 toward his debt after sentencing.
Stephen Byrne (Brooksville, Kentucky) pleaded guilty Aug. 15 in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas to one count of theft for working while receiving benefits. SID initiated an investigation after receiving and allegation that Byrne was working while he was receiving BWC benefits. The investigation found Byrne worked at Millennium Towing & Recovery and rental properties during the periods in which he applied for and was awarded wage loss and temporary total benefits from his self-insured employer, the City of Cincinnati. Byrne was sentenced to one year of community control, 100 hours of community service, ordered to pay restitution and maintain employment. Byrne has made full restitution of $14,774.15 to the City of Cincinnati.
Source: Ohio BWC SID