Columbus – A Batavia (Clermont County) man owes the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) nearly $50,000 in restitution after fraud investigators caught him on camera working while he was supposed to be recovering from a workplace injury. The surveillance video of Josh Cutler working as a tree trimmer landed him in a Franklin County courtroom where he pleaded guilty on Feb. 18.
“Our investigators were able to capture surveillance video that clearly demonstrated Cutler was working, but even the video didn’t tell the whole story,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “They also uncovered proof that Cutler was taking deliberate steps to ensure he continued receiving benefits, which is also a crime.”
BWC’s Special Investigations Department received an allegation that Cutler had been seen working for a tree trimming business while collecting disability from BWC for an injury sustained working for another tree trimming business. The investigation revealed that Cutler had been working while receiving living maintenance wage loss (LMWL) and temporary total disability benefits.
LMWL benefits are available to a claimant who has completed a rehabilitation plan but continues to have physical restrictions and experiences a wage loss upon return to work. Claimants are required to submit pay stubs while receiving LMWL, however, investigators discovered Cutler was not submitting his real paychecks to BWC. Instead, he was submitting forged checks, or checks for lower amounts that he did not cash.
Cutler pleaded guilty to felony counts of workers’ compensation fraud and forgery and was sentenced Feb. 18 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. He was sentenced to 12 months of incarceration, suspended for 18 months of community control. The $47,400 he was ordered to repay included $45,000 in restitution and $2,400 for investigative costs.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.