Albany, NY – The Offices of the New York State Inspector General recently announced the guilty plea of a former Verizon New York employee who lied to doctors about arm injuries to obtain $19,890 in workers’ compensation and company-provided benefits – while surveillance showed her exercising and lifting weights despite her claims of being unable to work.
Kelly M. Gersbacher of Mattydale pleaded guilty to Falsifying Business Records in the 2nd Degree (A Misdemeanor) in East Syracuse Village Court before Justice Joseph Zavaglia. As part of her plea, Gersbacher paid $19,890 in restitution and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge.
Gersbacher worked for Verizon New York as a technician when she sustained carpal tunnel-related injuries to both arms in August 2016. After having multiple surgeries between 2017 and 2019, she began receiving workers’ compensation indemnity payments in January 2019. In addition, Gersbacher received payments through Verizon New York’s disability benefits plan.
As required, Gersbacher attended independent medical examinations (IME) in 2019, where she claimed she could only lift 10 pounds from the ground, and that, because of the injuries, she was unable to continue going to her gym. Based upon her misrepresentation of her physical condition, doctors determined that she was moderately disabled resulting in her receiving more than $19,000 in benefits.
However, video surveillance from September and October 2019 found that Gersbacher was working out at gyms and conducting multiple errands, all in no apparent distress. She was filmed as she performed deadlifts with weights far exceeding 10 pounds and engaged in other weightlifting activity.
“This individual is being held accountable for wrongfully taking advantage of the workers’ compensation system,” said acting Inspector General Robyn Adair. “Thanks to the hard work of our partners in law enforcement, we have stopped yet another attempt to rip off this important safety net for workers across the state.”
The Inspector General’s Office thanked Sedgwick Claims Management, the third-party claims administrator for Verizon New York, for its assistance with the investigation, the New York State Police for its assistance with the arrest, and Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick and his office for prosecuting this matter.
Source: NY IG’s Office