Tuesday a busy day in court for BWC with 4 fraud convictions
A Knox County man caught scamming the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and trying to lie his way out of it was ordered to reimburse the agency $22,578 Tuesday and to pay $1,000 of it within six months or spend six months in jail.
“If we’re knocking on your door with a fraud allegation, lying won’t help your case,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “We are determined to stop fraud when we find it and to return any ill-gotten resources to their rightful purpose — taking care of injured workers and increasing workplace safety in this state.”
In one of four BWC court cases Tuesday, Scott Wells, 40, pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas — but not before blaming his cousin for the trouble he had gotten into.
BWC’s Special Investigations Department discovered Wells had been working as a truck driver while receiving BWC benefits when his name popped up in a state database showing his semi tractor-trailer had been stopped for an inspection by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. When confronted by investigators, Wells claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. He told agents his cousin had needed a job but didn’t have a commercial driver’s license, so he lent his license to his cousin and that’s who was stopped by PUCO in November 2013.
Wells’ cousin would not corroborate his story, however, nor would the trucking company and employment records.
In other fraud convictions Tuesday, all in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas:
Matthew Buckman of Columbus pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud after BWC investigators found that he worked for two different employers at various times since 2013 while receiving injured workers’ benefits. Among his jobs, he worked as a full-time appliance installer, with no known physical limitations, from Feb. 14, 2014 to March 16, 2015. A judge sentenced Buckman to 60 days in jail, suspended, and ordered him to pay $2,710 in restitution to BWC.
Enriquetta Valentine of Columbus was sentenced to one year of community control and ordered to pay $1,129 in restitution to BWC after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud for working while receiving BWC benefits.
Beverly J. Ritchie of Tiffin in northwest Ohio pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud. The judge ordered her to pay $5,340 in restitution, which she paid immediately.
In another recent fraud case, a Cleveland-area man on Feb. 23 was ordered to pay $28,669 in court costs and restitution to BWC after investigators found him working as a hotel maintenance engineer while receiving temporary total disability benefits from July 2, 2014 through Nov. 29, 2015.
A Franklin County judge also sentenced Willie A. Davis Jr., 58, of Bedford, to five years of community control and a suspended jail sentence of one year. Davis pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud in January.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.