A Williston, North Dakota man has become the first employer ever sentenced to serve jail time for committing workers’ compensation fraud in North Dakota. Robert Bartels, doing business as Bartels Construction, was sentenced to serve five days of a one year sentence, one year supervised probation and ordered to pay $4,765.92 in restitution for failing to secure workers’ compensation coverage for three workers.
Investigators from Workforce Safety & Insurance (formerly ND Workers’ Compensation) received two anonymous tips that initiated the investigation of Bartels. “We received one tip on our toll-free fraud hotline and a separate tip from a different person through our fraud reporting area on our Web site,” said Kelvin Zimmer, Workforce Safety Special Investigator.
Bartels was accused of hiring three workers in a hazardous employment work environment and not securing workers’ compensation coverage for those employees. Since the amount due was greater than $500 it becomes a Class C felony under North Dakota workers’ compensation law. The charges were later reduced to a Class A misdemeanor in exchange for a guilty plea.
Fraudulent injury claims filed by workers have resulted in jail time in the past. But Special Investigations Unit( SIU) director Dave Aberle said this is the first time an employer has received jail time for a fraud conviction.
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