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 July 2015. These court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID).
“BWC takes very seriously our responsibility to protect injured workers and save employer dollars by holding those who commit fraud accountable,” said Buehrer. “The tips we receive, along with the careful work of our investigators, are crucial to identifying those who are skirting the law and dodging the rules designed to protect Ohio’s businesses and workforce.”
The following is a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during July:
Wayne Richardson, Columbus (Franklin County), pleaded guilty July 20 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a second-degree misdemeanor count of failure to comply for allowing his workers’ compensation coverage to lapse. SID identified Richardson operating a business without BWC coverage after he was previously investigated for the same issue. The Employer Fraud Team attempted to work with Richardson and his attorney to bring the policy back into compliance with state law, however, Richardson failed to submit payroll information. The Judge ordered court costs, which Richardson paid at the time of hearing.
David Robertson, Aurora (Portage County), pleaded guilty in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas July 22 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an anonymous allegation indicating Robertson was working while receiving BWC benefits. Investigators conducted surveillance, retrieved records and gathered witness statements to prove Robertson returned to work at Jim’s Open Kitchen in Solon performing a variety of tasks including dish washer and cook. Robertson was interviewed and confessed to his activities. The judge ordered Robertson to one year of probation. If he fails to abide by the terms of the probation, he will receive six months in prison. An overpayment of $45,162.00 was recovered from his settlement.
Billy Schloss, Port Jefferson, (Shelby County), pleaded guilty July 13 in the Shelby County Court of Common Pleas to a first-degree misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation indicating Schloss had returned to work for Statford Mader (Mader), owner of Graceway International in Port Jefferson. Investigators found Schloss was employed by Mader while consecutively receiving temporary total disability benefits. Mader advised that Schloss worked at his rental properties and mowed grass, swept floors, and completed general maintenance duties such as patching roofs. Sentencing has been scheduled for September 1.
Duane Collier, Lorain (Lorain County) was found guilty July 27 in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas of a fifth-degree felony count of forgery. A claims service specialist followed up with Collier’s physician when BWC received a request for disability form listing physical restrictions and an estimate of when Collier could return to work. The physician had not completed the form. SID’s investigation found that Collier forged his return to work dates, date of exam and the physician’s signature on the form in order to extend his benefits for six months. Collier will be sentenced on August 26.
Abdullahi Aden, Columbus (Franklin County), pleaded guilty July 8 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID’s Intelligence Unit identified Aden as possibly working as a truck driver through a cross match with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The investigation found Aden knowingly worked as a driver during periods for which he received temporary total disability benefits and failed to notify the BWC or his physician of record of his employment. Aden was ordered to pay $1,397.48 and was sentenced to 30 days incarceration, suspended. Aden made the payment to the Clerk of Court’s office prior to the plea.
Kristopher Kildow, Galion (Richland County), pleaded guilty July 14 to one first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for working while receiving benefits. SID acted on an allegation indicating Kildow may be working while collecting BWC benefits. The source also found a listing for Kildow Construction operating with Kildow’s known telephone number listed as the business contact. Investigators confirmed that Kildow returned to work as a self employed contractor for Kildow Construction between September 2013 and February 2014, while concurrently receiving temporary total disability benefits. Kildow concealed his work activities and failed to disclose his employment when he submitted four requests to continue his benefits in order to receive benefits to which he would not have otherwise been entitled. He was ordered to pay court costs.
Craig Sealey, Dublin (Franklin County), pleaded guilty July 21 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID’s Intelligence Unit learned through a cross-match with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) that Sealey may be working while receiving benefits. The investigation found Sealey knowingly and with fraudulent intent worked as a laborer while receiving temporary total disability benefits from the BWC. He was ordered to pay $2,147 in restitution and was sentenced to 14 days in jail, suspended if he pays his fines and court costs by November 21, 2015.
David Elwood, Lima (Allen County), pleaded guilty in Lima Municipal Court on July 24 to one first-degree misdemeanor count of falsification for filing a false claim. SID received an allegation from a claims service specialist indicating Elwood had received treatment prior to his alleged workplace injury. SID obtained documentation that Elwood received treatment seven hours prior to his alleged injury at work. Elwood reported that his injury occurred while stepping out of his delivery van within fifteen minutes of his start time. When confronted with the documentation, Elwood withdrew his claim. Elwood was ordered to pay investigative costs of $1,226.88, $150 in fines, and $25 for public defender fees and costs. He was also sentenced to 30 days in jail, suspended.
Source: Ohio BWC SID