State agency information sharing program tips off investigators
COLUMBUS – Two Columbus women who were working as home health aides were sentenced for two separate cases of workers’ compensation fraud in Franklin County courtrooms last week. Latonia Almon and Michelle Green became the subjects of separate investigations after the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Special Investigations Department (SID) received data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) indicating they were receiving wages while collecting workers’ comp benefits.
“While many cases come to our attention after we receive tips through our hotline and website, our Intelligence Unit utilizes analytical intelligence to root out otherwise undetected fraudulent activity,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “Data sharing with ODJFS and other state agencies is another tool that helps proactively detect fraud among claimants, medical providers and employers.”
SID opened an investigation into Almon after receiving information from its Intelligence Unit that an ODJFS crossmatch of data indicated she was employed while receiving workers’ comp benefits. Investigators found Almon was working as a home health aide for Columbus Global Home Health during the entire period she was collecting disability for a workplace injury that occurred when she was working at the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility. During an interview, Almon admitted to “kinda” working and receiving payment for the services she provided. She also admitted she did not inform the BWC of this employment.
Latonia Almon was sentenced Jan. 15 after pleading guilty to one fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud. Judge McIntosh sentenced her to 12 months of incarceration, suspended for three years of community control, and ordered her to pay $70,610.55 in restitution to BWC.
Michelle Green also became the subject of an investigation following an ODJFS data crossmatch that indicated she was earning wages while collecting benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation confirmed Green was employed with Good Hands Home Health Care Service in Columbus. Evidence obtained during the course of the investigation also showed that she intentionally misrepresented and withheld her employment in order to continue collecting benefits.
Green pleaded guilty to attempted workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, on Jan. 13. She was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,899.99 and $100 in court costs.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.