BWC investigators secured eight convictions in November on cases involving workers’ compensation fraud, including two cases where suspects were found living and working in Florida.
“These cases demonstrate the skill and diligence of our investigators to track down and hold accountable those who try to cheat the workers’ compensation system,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “We will find cheats whether they are residing in Ohio or in the far corners of another state.”
As of Nov. 30, BWC’s Special Investigations Department had secured 99 convictions for the calendar year. November’s convictions include:
Jarrod Lewis of Palm Bay, Florida – Working and Receiving
Lewis pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud Nov. 28 after BWC investigators found him working as a carpet cleaner in Florida while collecting injured workers’ benefits from BWC. A judge ruled Lewis, formerly of Chillicothe, must pay $5,300 in restitution to BWC and serve five years probation in lieu of a 12-month prison sentence for committing the fifth-degree felony.
William Numbers, Sr., dba Nycom Inc., of Lima, Ohio (Allen County) – Operating without Coverage
Numbers pleaded guilty Nov. 21 to two second-degree misdemeanor counts of failure to comply after agents discovered he was operating his automobile transmission shop without valid BWC coverage. Numbers was sentenced to 30 days in jail (suspended), fined $300 and ordered to have no further failure to comply charges for the next two years.
Manuel Perez of West Portsmouth, Ohio (Scioto County) – Working and Receiving
Perez pleaded guilty Nov. 21 to misdemeanor counts of workers’ compensation fraud and theft. He must pay $132,239 in restitution to BWC and serve five years probation. He paid $10,000 toward his restitution at his sentencing. He also was sentenced to six months in jail, which was suspended so long as he complies with the terms of his probation.
Agents determined Perez collected injured workers’ benefits for four years while running an automobile repair shop out of his residence.
Thomas Gallagher of Dublin, Ohio (Franklin County) – False Claim
Gallagher pleaded guilty Nov. 16 to one first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators determined he had filed false injury reports twice in recent years to obtain painkillers at local hospital emergency departments. He was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to pay BWC $620 for the cost of investigating him.
Theodore Philput, dba as Berwick Electric Company, of Canal Winchester, Ohio (Fairfield County) – Operating without Coverage
Philput pleaded no contest Nov. 14 to four counts of workers’ compensation fraud, all first-degree misdemeanors, and a judge found him guilty on all charges. Investigators determined Philput’s BWC policy had been lapsed since October 2009. They served Philput compliance materials, but Philput failed to reinstate his coverage.
Philput provided BWC $29,609 in restitution at sentencing. A judge sentenced him to two years community control and warned he would serve 180 days in jail on each count if he violated terms of his probation.
Michael Mitchell of Whitehall, Ohio (Franklin County) – Working and Receiving
Mitchell pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud during a court appearance that was delayed after he failed to appear for his 2013 arraignment. He was sentenced to 11 months of incarceration, suspended for five years of community control, and ordered to pay BWC $5,000 in restitution.
Investigators discovered Mitchell was self-employed as a painter and sub-contracted multiple jobs from various painting companies while also collecting benefits from BWC. They also determined Mitchell did not have current workers’ compensation coverage and that he altered his BWC certificate of coverage in order to secure painting jobs.
Nikitas Xipolitas of Tarpon Springs, Florida – Working and Receiving
Xipolitas, formerly of Mahoning County, pleaded guilty Nov. 4 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after agents found him working in Florida while receiving workplace injury benefits and using multiple aliases to cover his crime. A judge sentenced Xipolitas to six months in jail, suspended for five years of community control, under the condition that he pay $23,601 in restitution to BWC.
Danielle Cheeks of Groveport, Ohio (Franklin County) – Working and Receiving
Cheeks pleaded guilty Nov. 3 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators discovered she had been working as a home health aide as far back as 2010 while receiving injured workers’ benefits from BWC. A judge ruled she must pay $51,590 in restitution to BWC and serve five years probation in lieu of a six-month jail sentence.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.