Eight individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in April 2016. These court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID).
“Investigating and putting an end to fraud helps protect the benefits of injured workers and keep employers’ premiums down,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “That’s why BWC is so proactive in pursuing all employers, medical providers, workers and others who are committing fraud.”
Cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during April include:
Mitchell Jones of Akron (Summit County) – Ordered to pay $1,824.73 in restitution after BWC investigators found he had returned to work as a truck driver while collecting BWC benefits. Jones pleaded guilty April 4 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which was suspended for two years of community control.
William Harmon, dba Fork and Finger Café, Inc., of Portsmouth (Scioto County) – Pleaded guilty April 11 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, for failing to bring his BWC policy back into compliance despite several warnings from the BWC. Harmon was sentenced to two years probation, 90 days incarceration (suspended), and ordered to pay monthly payments to the BWC. He was also ordered to keep current on all workers’ compensation obligations while maintaining an active worker’s compensation certificate.
Keith Mitchell of Columbus (Franklin County) – Ordered to pay the BWC $5,147.37 in restitution for intentionally misrepresenting and withholding his employment in order to continue collecting injured workers’ benefits. Mitchell pleaded guilty April 12 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended for two years of community control.
Susan Meaney (Columbus, Franklin County) – Ordered to repay more than $12,000 to BWC after investigators found she was working while receiving workers’ comp benefits. Meaney pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud on April 15 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. She was sentenced to 10 months of incarceration, which was suspended for three years of community control.
Mischelle Bensch of Weston, Michigan – Pleaded guilty April 18, 2016 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. BWC initiated an investigation after identifying that wages were being reported for Bensch at a church in Michigan while she was receiving temporary total disability benefits. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 23, 2016.
Angela Pugin of Spencerville (Allen County) – Sentenced April 18 for colluding to commit workers’ comp fraud with a co-worker who was sentenced last year for fraud in the same case. Pugin pleaded guilty in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a felony count of complicity to commit workers’ compensation fraud.
BWC investigators found Pugin, an office manager for D&G Development and Restoration/1-800 BOARD UP in Lima, had paid Douglas Roop cash for work at D&G while Roop was receiving injured workers’ benefits from the BWC. Pugin paid $5,000 for investigative costs prior to her sentencing. She was also ordered to pay court costs.
Patrick H. Green, dba Pat’s Custom Painting, of Whitehall (Franklin County) – Convicted April 25 on one count of forgery, a fifth-degree felony, after BWC investigators found he had altered a BWC certificate of coverage to indicate valid coverage after his policy had lapsed. The BWC also found Green had obtained another certificate of coverage for his business but under a different business name so he could appear compliant and avoid the debt he owed on his lapsed policy.
Green was sentenced to six months in prison, which was suspended for two years of community control.
James Bulakovski of Mansfield (Richland County) – Ordered to repay the BWC nearly $1,700 for working concurrently in the insurance industry. Bulakovski pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, on April 27 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. In addition to restitution, he was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended for one year of community control.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.