Columbus, OH – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer recently announced that 12 individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in April 2014. These 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.
“Since the beginning of the year, 36 convictions have been obtained,” Buehrer said. “We’re pleased with our agents’ success in tracking down fraud among employers, claimants and medical providers, and will continue to routinely share information about their cases to deter others from committing workers’ compensation fraud. We want to prevent fraud from happening in the first place.”
The following case information represents a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during April:
David Delvecchio (Mooresville, Indiana) pleaded guilty April 29 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. SID received an allegation from a BWC claims specialist that Delvecchio may have returned to work because he was never home during the day. Investigators found that he returned to work in 2011 and in 2013 for multiple employers in Indiana while collecting BWC disability benefits. A restitution hearing is scheduled for June 19, and Delvecchio is scheduled to be sentenced on June 27.
Robert Hill (St. Paris, Champaign County) pleaded guilty April 9 to a Bill of Information filed in Champaign County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fourth-degree felony. SID received an allegation that Hill was operating a tractor part business from his home. Investigators found that Hill and his wife operated the business online and from his home while he collected temporary total disability benefits from a self-insured employer between 2011 and 2013. Sentencing is scheduled for May 19.
Charles Hepner (Strongsville, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty April 9 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. SID identified Hepner as possibly working through a cross-match with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services; he had wages reported in 2012. Investigators found he worked for multiple employers while receiving BWC benefits. Hepner was sentenced to 180 days of incarceration, which was suspended for two years of community control and $6,235.52 in restitution.
Kenny McSwain Jr. (Akron, Summit County) pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. SID received an anonymous tip through BWC’s fraud hotline that McSwain worked at a local hotel while receiving temporary total disability benefits from BWC. Investigators reviewed employment and payroll records, and interviewed McSwain, who acknowledged that he collected BWC disability benefits he wasn’t legally entitled to receive. He paid $1,216.32 in restitution at his sentencing. He was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail, which was suspended.
David Morinello (Parma, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty April 2 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. A confidential source contacted BWC’s Northeast Regional Special Investigations Unit to report Morinello was working while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Investigators determined that he worked for an outdoor lighting business as well as his own outdoor lighting and design business while receiving BWC benefits. Morinello provided the court with a cashierâ€™s check for $8,898.09 in restitution. He was fined $100 and ordered to pay court costs by June 20. He will be placed on probation, if he does not pay.
George Walter (Columbus, Franklin County) was sentenced April 15 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas after pleading guilty to forgery, a fifth-degree felony. SID’s Intelligence Unit identified that Walter had filed multiple claims, which had all been disallowed due to no employee-employer relationship. Walters filed six claims, but the listed employer denied Walter was ever employed by them, or had not been employed on the date of the alleged accident. Using business records and statements from business owners and management staff, investigators determined that Walter was not an employee. He was sentenced to five years of community control, but if he violates terms of community control, he will serve six months in prison.
Source: Ohio BWC