Everett, WA – An Everett man caught remodeling homes while claiming he was too injured to work has been charged with felony theft in a workers’ compensation fraud case.
Terry Lee Dawson is accused of stealing more than $55,000 in workers’ compensation payments over four years starting in September 2016. Dawson, who was doing business as Best 1 Solutions, Inc., pleaded not guilty last week to first-degree theft in Snohomish County Superior Court. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 13.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on a fraud investigation by the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), which runs the state workers’ compensation program.
“When we learn people are intentionally trying to defraud the system, we take action,” said Celeste Monahan, assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “If you’re injured and receiving benefits, you have to be truthful about whether you are going back to work.”
Online reviews aid in investigation
Dawson had been receiving wage replacement payments off and on since 2003 due to a back injury he sustained while working as a carpenter. Medical providers had determined he couldn’t work due to the injury, and he regularly submitted forms to L&I stating he wasn’t working while receiving the payments.
An L&I investigation found Dawson was actually working at his construction business while getting workers’ compensation payments at the same time. Dawson created the company in 2003 with a co-owner.
Investigators discovered the construction firm was advertising on an online referral service, and had attracted more than 28 customer reviews from August 2017 to May 2020.
At least seven of the reviews mentioned “Terry” (Dawson’s first name), and investigators spoke to multiple reviewers who confirmed Dawson was involved in their home improvement project.
In addition to the customer witnesses, the company co-owner said Dawson helped her by going on supply runs to home improvement warehouses.