The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) netted nine convictions in September in criminal cases related to workers’ compensation fraud.
Those convicted included workers who found other work while collecting BWC benefits, employers with lapsed coverage who racked up outstanding premiums and fines totaling tens of thousands of dollars, and a dependent of a deceased worker who lied about her college attendance to collect nearly $54,000 in BWC benefits over four years.
“Those who cheat the workers’ compensation system divert resources we need to serve employers and injured workers in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “Congratulations to our investigators for bringing these cases to justice and returning funds to their rightful purpose – making Ohio workplaces safer and caring for injured workers.”
As of Sept. 30, BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) had secured 80 convictions for the calendar year. September convictions include:
William Tootle, Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) – Falsified Wages
Acting on a tip, investigators found Tootle was submitting false wages in order to receive higher wage benefits than he was actually entitled to receive. Tootle pleaded guilty Sept. 29 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. Tootle paid $7,478 in restitution to BWC.
Steve Petrick Jr., Sandusky, Ohio (Erie County) – Lapsed Coverage
Investigators found Petrick, owner of Steve Petrick Roofing, had been in continuous operation with employees without appropriate workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Petrick pleaded guilty Sept. 28 to a fourth-degree felony count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas. Petrick owes outstanding premiums/penalties of approximately $54,000.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 9.
Lisa M. Manley, Brewster, Ohio (Stark County) – Working and Receiving
Manley pleaded guilty Sept. 27 to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving BWC injured worker benefits. She paid BWC $1,078 in restitution prior to her plea. A judge in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas sentenced Graham to a 30-day suspended jail sentence and waived fines and cost.
Ronnie Tolliver, Greenville, Ohio (Darke County) – Working and Receiving
Acting on a tip, investigators found Tolliver operated and actively worked at T&T Total Remodeling while collecting more than $18,000 in temporary total disability benefits between April and November of 2013.
Tolliver pleaded guilty Sept. 22 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. A judge in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas sentenced Tolliver to non-reporting community control for five years and ordered him to pay $18,510 in restitution to BWC. The judge warned Tolliver that if he violates the terms of his community control, he will serve 12 months in prison.
Dion Hopson, Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) – Working and Receiving
Investigators found Hopson working for two employers in 2014 and 2015 while collecting injured workers’ benefits. Hopson pleaded guilty Sept. 20 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended in exchange for five years community control. He also was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution to BWC and $1,000 in investigative costs.
Kori White, Cleveland, Ohio (Cuyahoga County) – Death Benefits
White pleaded guilty Sept. 19 to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators found she deceived BWC about her student status to collect nearly $54,000 in dependent death benefits over four years.
A judge in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas sentenced White to community control for five years, under the conditions she obtain a job or undergo job training and make regular payments toward her BWC balance. White paid $10,000 toward her restitution to BWC prior to her plea, leaving her with a balance owed of $43,782.
Robert D Matusiak, Brunswick, Ohio (Medina County) – No Coverage, False Application
Matusiak, owner of Rob’s Tree Service, pleaded guilty Sept. 19 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fourth-degree felony, after investigators found he had been operating his business with employees even though he dropped his BWC policy in 2004.
Investigators also found Matusiak filed falsified applications for BWC coverage during their investigation in an attempt to cover up his history and avoid paying $22,000 in outstanding premiums. Sentencing in the Medina County Court of Common Pleas is set for Nov. 3.
Cheryl McCleary, Columbus,Ohio (Franklin County) – Obstructing Official Business
Investigators found McCleary working as a home health aide while receiving BWC benefits.
McCleary pleaded guilty Sept. 13 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a reduced charge of attempted obstruction of official business, a first-degree misdemeanor. McCleary was sentenced to one day in jail, time served, and ordered to pay $12,985 in restitution to BWC. McCleary has paid the full amount.
To report suspected cases of workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.