Mentor man caught working as handyman while collecting BWC benefits
A northeast Ohio landscaper must pay the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) a little more than $5,000 in restitution after the agency’s investigators found him working while collecting injured-worker benefits.
Jason Dudas, 39, of Mentor, pleaded guilty Dec. 13 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. A judge ordered Dudas to pay BWC $5,073 in restitution and serve three years of non-reporting probation.
“We got a tip that Mr. Dudas might be working after someone spotted him getting into a truck loaded with construction supplies at a Home Depot store,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department. “We checked it out and found Mr. Dudas working as a handyman while collecting BWC benefits. This behavior isn’t just illegal, it’s expensive and unfair because it drives up the costs of our workers’ comp system for everyone.”
In other business, a Toledo-area business owner pleaded guilty to attempted failure to comply with the law Dec. 3 after BWC discovered him running a business without workers’ compensation coverage to protect his employees.
Brian Lang, owner of Outdoor Inspirations of Holland, Ohio, pleaded guilty to the third-degree misdemeanor charge in Sylvania Municipal Court after paying $5,304 toward the balance he owes BWC. A judge scheduled sentencing for Jan. 28.
“Our investigation revealed Mr. Lang had several employees and therefore he absolutely should be carrying workers’ compensation insurance,” said Wernecke. “We put him on notice to become compliant with the law, but he failed to do that and that’s why he found himself in court Dec. 3.”
Outdoor Inspirations is a specialty landscaping and tree service company, according to its website. The company’s workers’ comp policy remains lapsed.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.