Six Ohioans and a Florida resident owing the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) more than $450,000 in back premiums and restitution were convicted on fraud or fraud-related charges in September.
Those convicted include a Jackson Twp. business owner who misclassified his employees and underreported his payroll to shave $350,000 off his BWC premiums. Others include a basketball coach, a taxi service owner and a valet attendant.
“Whether it’s employers trying to avoid paying their fair share or claimants trying to hide their work activity, cheating the system is not tolerated,” said Jennifer Cunningham, assistant director of BWC’s special investigations department. “We exist to find and prosecute these cheaters to reduce costs to employers and ensure honest claimants receive the benefits they need.”
September’s cases bring total convictions since January to 61, as of Sept. 30. Those convicted, in order of most recent court case, include:
Christine Estrict, Working and Receiving, Cleveland, Ohio
Estrict, aka Christina Estrict, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud on Sept. 26 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas after BWC found her working as a youth basketball coach and referee while collecting BWC benefits. A judge sentenced her to 180 days in jail, then suspended the sentence for five years of probation. He ordered her to pay BWC $4,156 in restitution.
Glenn J. Miller III, Working and Receiving, Augustine, Florida
Miller pleaded guilty Sept. 26 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, after BWC found him working as a truck driver while collecting BWC benefits. A judge sentenced him to six months incarceration, suspended for three years of community control with the condition to pay restitution of $16,000 to BWC.
James M Horton, dba All Around Transportation, Lapsed Coverage, Hamilton, Ohio
Horton, of Clarksville, pleaded guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor count of Failure to Comply Sept. 25 in Hamilton Municipal Court after BWC discovered his policy lapsed in July 2016. Horton, who owes BWC more than $55,000 in back premiums, faces up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine at his sentencing Dec. 5 if he fails to enter a repayment plan by then.
Anthony Caputo, Working and Receiving, Strongsville, Ohio
Caputo pleaded guilty Sept. 17 in Franklin County to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ comp fraud after investigators found him working as a valet attendant at a Cleveland-area hospital while collecting BWC benefits. A judge fined him $500 in lieu of a 10-day jail sentence. Caputo paid BWC $4,021 in restitution prior to his plea.
Linda Cline, Working and Receiving, Springfield, Ohio
Cline pleaded guilty in a Franklin County courtroom to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found her working while collecting BWC benefits. A judge ordered Cline to serve six months of community control and to pay $1,500 in investigative costs. Cline paid BWC $6,759 in restitution prior to her plea.
Craig Snee, dba Earth ‘n Wood, Underreporting and Misclassification of Payroll, North Canton, Ohio
A Stark County jury found Snee guilty Sept. 12 of a fourth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after BWC found he had misclassified his employees and underreported his payroll to save $350,000 in BWC premiums. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17.
Clarice Ward, Working and Receiving, Euclid, Ohio
Ward pleaded guilty Sept. 4 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers’ compensation fraud after investigators found her working while collecting BWC benefits. A Cuyahoga County judge sentenced her to six months in prison, suspended for five years of community control, and ordered her to pay BWC $26,578 in restitution.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.