Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer announced today that four individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in March 2016. These court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID).
“I’m pleased these claimants are now on the hook for repayment and will not continue receiving undeserved compensation,” said Buehrer. “We encourage Ohioans to contact us when they suspect fraud. Our agents look into every allegation as part of their ongoing work to put an end to fraud and deter future scams against Ohio’s injured workers and businesses.”
The following are a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during March.
Kevin Gruver (Elyria, Lorain County) pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas March 16 for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating Gruver after receiving an allegation indicating he had returned to work with Adecco while collecting benefits for a workplace injury. Investigators found that Gruver did return to work with Adecco and worked as a temporary employee for multiple companies, including Leggett & Platt, Wal-Mart, Pontoon First Energy Fieldglass, and 3M. This employment activity was inconsistent with Gruver’s receipt of temporary total disability benefits. Gruver was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for two years of community control under the conditions that he maintain employment and pay restitution in the amount of $6,959.65.
Charles Bentley (Mentor, Lake County) pleaded guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on March 10 for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating after receiving an anonymous allegation stating Bentley had been working “under the table” for a landscaping company for three years. Bentley should not have been working at all as he was receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation confirmed that Bentley returned to employment during the winter season as a snowplow truck driver while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Bentley had already paid the entire restitution in the amount of $22,125.60 to BWC. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, suspended for 90 days of community control.
Amato Zaccone Jr. (Hubbard, Trumbull County) pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas March 10 for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating Zaccone after a wage cross-match with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services indicated he was working during the same time period he was receiving BWC benefits for a workplace injury. Investigators conducted field interviews and obtained financial records that confirmed Zaccone was working as a cook for McMenamy’s, LLC while receiving Temporary Total Disability. Zaccone was sentenced to 90 days in jail, suspended for one year of community control on the condition that he pay restitution in the amount of $1,045.20.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.