Convicts stole work comp benefits from family members

BWC secures 7 fraud convictions in December

BWC investigators secured seven fraud-related convictions in December that included two cases where the convicts had stolen injured workers’ benefits from family members.

In a case in northwest Ohio, the children of a deceased claimant cashed out their father’s BWC benefits for four months following his death in 2014. Cecilia Williams, 36, of Fayette, Ohio, pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud. Her sentence is pending a pre-sentence investigation ordered by a Fulton County judge.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) discovered that Williams’ father had died in March 2014 but his family failed to notify BWC. The investigation found that BWC benefits continued to be deposited through July 2014 and more than $6,600 were withdrawn from ATMs over that time. Williams admitted to withdrawing the funds using her deceased father’s debit card and then providing half of the money to her brother, James Miller.

James Miller is scheduled for pre-trial on Feb. 10.

In another case involving family members, Kelly Clark, 38, of Columbus pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of theft Dec. 15 in a Franklin County courtroom for stealing an elderly relative’s BWC check.

Investigators found that Clark, who had been living with the relative, stole the check and cashed it without permission. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but received 30 days credited for time served and 60 days suspended as long as she pays $862 in restitution by Sept. 13, 2017.

Other December convictions include:

Muhammad Rashid of Hilliard — Lapsed Coverage
A judge found Rashid guilty of a minor misdemeanor count of failure to comply after Rashid failed to carry BWC coverage on his Youngstown area gas stations. Rashid became compliant on three gas stations, closed a fourth and paid its outstanding balance of $2,824. A judge imposed a $100 fine and court costs.

Alfonso R. Hooper of Columbus — Falsifying Wages
Hooper, 66, pleaded guilty Dec. 19 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found he falsified his job search forms in order to receive non-working, wage-loss benefits from BWC. The court sentenced Hooper to 30 days in jail, suspended for one year of community control. The court also ordered Hooper to pay $5,000 investigative costs to BWC.

Scott A. Dix of Westerville — False Claim
Dix pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to one count of attempted forgery, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators determined he filed a false injured worker’s claim against his employer in order to receive BWC benefits. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which was suspended as long as he pays $750 to BWC for investigative costs.

William T. Maguire of Cincinnati — Lapsed Coverage
Maguire pleaded guilty to two fifth-degree felony counts of workers’ compensation fraud Dec. 6 after BWC discovered he ran his landscaping business for at least five years without workers’ compensation coverage. He owes premiums to BWC totaling $92,447. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 18 in Hamilton County.

Angelo Reillo Sr. of Garfield Heights — Working and Receiving
Reillo pleaded guilty Dec. 1 to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators caught him working while receiving injured workers’ benefits. Reillo paid $3,354 in restitution to BWC at the time of his guilty plea. A judge fined him $50.

To report suspected cases of workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.

Penn. prison stay delays work comp cheat’s Ohio conviction

tony-harn-booking-photoA Columbus man pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud Monday after his case was delayed for two years because he was in a Pennsylvania prison for violating his probation in a separate and unrelated criminal matter.

Tony R. Harn pleaded guilty Jan. 9 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud and one count of theft, both misdemeanors of the first degree, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. A judge ordered Harn to pay $12,861 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and sentenced him to 180 days in jail on each count. The judge then suspended the jail sentence and placed Harn on two years of community control.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department started looking at Harn in 2010 after learning he had filed a suspicious wage earnings statement (IRS 1099) that BWC needed to calculate his injured workers’ benefits. SID determined Harn never worked for the employer listed on the 1099, an Ohio trucking company, and that he knowingly submitted the false form to increase his BWC benefits.

Harn was indicted in Franklin County in 2013, extradited to Pennsylvania in 2014 for his prison term there and released last year.

Employer finalists embody spirit of safety innovation

By Erik Harden, Public Information Officer, BWC Communications Department

safetyinnovationswebheader

We know employers all over the state are continually seeking ways to improve the safety and well-being of their employees. So to spotlight these innovative employers and their ingenuity, we sponsor the Safety Innovation Awards Program.

We created the program to recognize and reward employer ingenuity that results in risk reduction, cost savings, and potential application to other workplaces, industries or operations. Innovations can range from a newly–created piece of equipment, tool, process or method to an existing one that has been improved or used in a new or creative way.

After careful consideration of dozens of applications and visits to the sites of 10 semifinalists, we are pleased to announce the following employers as the five finalists for the 2017 Safety Innovation Awards.

Ames Arboreal Group (Columbus) – JosieBea micrograpple truck
A truck with a mechanical boom and small grapple that is used to lift tree limbs and pieces of the trunk into the trailer to eliminate the need for using a wood chipper

C&K Industrial Services, Inc. (Cleveland) – Hydroblasting robots
All-terrain, remote-controlled robots that use high-pressure water for cleaning industrial equipment and facilities, and to eliminate sustained, forceful gripping and manipulation of the spray wands

Holloway, Henderson & Martin, LLC (Pickerington) – Scaffold caddy
A custom-designed cart that was developed to eliminate the manual carrying of scaffold components into buildings

ICP Adhesives and Sealants (Norton) – Pneumatically-operated cylinder clamp
A pneumatic clamping mechanism that eliminates repetitive, manual squeezing and releasing of filling nozzle clamps when filling cylinders with product

Suburban Steel Supply Company (Gahanna) – Electric Transfer Cart
Motorized, pendant-operated carts that run on tracks through a fabrication shop to eliminate manual pushing of carts loaded with large, heavy structural steel components

The five finalists will present their innovations to a three-judge panel and the public at our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2017 (OSC17) in Columbus on March 8-10.

A panel of independent judges will select the winners using a number of criteria, including risk reduction, innovation, return on investment, potential for other employers to use the innovation and presentation quality. OSC17 attendees will determine the recipient of The People’s Choice award.

We will present the awards and monetary prizes during a ceremony at Safety Congress. However, the real winners are the employees of these companies. Innovations like the ones listed above help workers stay safe and healthy, increase productivity and morale, and produce long-term cost savings.

Holidays bring convictions to 3 workers’ comp cheats

A northeast Ohio truck driver on injured workers’ benefits since 1993 is on the hook for $17,000 after pleading guilty to workers’ compensation fraud Tuesday in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

secklerWilliam Seckler, 54, of the village of Andover in Ashtabula County, must pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) $14,520 in restitution and $2,530 in investigative costs for working while receiving permanent total disability benefits. A judge also ordered Seckler to serve 180 days in jail, suspended, and four years of community control for the first-degree misdemeanor.

Seckler was employed as a full-time truck driver at the time of his injury in 1993. Acting on a tip, BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) started looking at him in 2014 and found him working as a delivery driver for an Amish roofing company.

In other news, a Columbus man was convicted for workers’ compensation fraud on Dec. 19 after falsifying his job search forms in order to receive non-working, wage-loss benefits from BWC.

alfonso-hooper-booking-photoAlfonso R. Hooper, 66, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud after SID found he falsely claimed to have applied for work at more than 40 potential employers listed on his job search forms.

A Franklin County judge sentenced Hooper to 30 days in jail, suspended, and one year of community control. The judge also ordered Hooper to pay BWC $5,000 for its investigative costs.

In a court case Dec. 30, a central Ohio man was convicted for failure to comply after BWC found he was operating four gas stations in the Youngstown area with lapsed workers’ compensation policies.

A judge in Niles Municipal Court convicted Muhammad Rashid, 36, of Hilliard, Ohio, on a minor misdemeanor count of failure to comply and fined Rashid $100 and court costs.

Rashid worked with BWC to become compliant with three policies, but not on the fourth. Rashid later filed paperwork with BWC stating he closed that business and paid the outstanding balance due of $2,824.

To report suspected cases of workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.