Tumwater, WA – A Pierce County man who claimed his on-the-job injury was so severe he could no longer work as a roofer has been charged with stealing more than $54,000 in benefits from the state workers’ compensation system.
Workers’ compensation funds are meant to help injured workers by partially replacing lost wages and covering medical expenses. But state investigators observed Patrick Dean Farthing walking on roofs, removing roof tiles, and moving construction equipment and heavy materials ̶ the same kinds of tasks he did when working as a roofer before his injury.
Farthing is scheduled to be arraigned on one count of first-degree theft, a felony offense, in Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia on Dec. 27.
The Lakewood man is charged with wrongfully taking the thousands of dollars in wage replacement payments from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) from mid-2014 to January 2021.
Farthing, who was caught working as an unregistered contractor, also used the alias Adam Lay and sometimes did business as Pat Farthing Roofing.
“When we hear about fraud, we investigate,” said Celeste Monahan, assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “Cheaters seem to think that stealing workers’ comp benefits doesn’t hurt anyone.
“But it’s taking money from legitimately injured workers, and everyone whose hard-earned dollars support the workers’ compensation system.”
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on L&I’s investigation of Farthing.
Tip leads to two-year investigation
Farthing injured his shoulder in 2010 while repairing a roof. His medical provider determined the injury was so serious he couldn’t work as a roofer. That assessment, coupled with Farthing’s declarations that he wasn’t working in any job, allowed him to qualify first for wage replacement payments, which are temporary, and then for a pension.
In 2018, L&I launched a two-year investigation into Farthing after receiving a tip he was working as a roofer. A team of L&I investigators determined Farthing had been running his own business that performed roofing jobs throughout the South Sound.
Investigators photographed Farthing remove and install roofs, direct work crews, and move equipment and materials on and off job sites, according to charging papers. They obtained Farthing’s bank records, and building supply invoices showing he was buying roofing materials starting in 2014, sometimes using the name Adam Lay.
Cited for unregistered contracting
As part of the investigation, construction compliance inspectors caught Farthing and his work crews roofing houses in Spanaway and Olympia in 2018, according to inspection records. They issued him civil infractions for unregistered contracting, with penalties totaling $5,000 that remain unpaid.
When the inspector at the Spanaway site asked Farthing if he wanted to register as a contractor, Farthing responded, “he was not interested,” the inspector’s statement said.
L&I oversees the state workers’ compensation system, which helps employees injured on the job heal and get back to work. Employees who can’t work because of their injury and who meet certain conditions can receive payments for part of their lost wages.
Source: WA L&I