A Columbus man has been sentenced for workers’ compensation fraud after the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) caught him on camera working at his lawn care business while he claimed he was unable to work due to a workplace injury.
Michael Dickerson was sentenced in a Franklin County courtroom and must repay nearly $30,000 in restitution and investigative costs.
“Despite claiming to be permanently disabled, Mr. Dickerson was observed performing physical labor inconsistent with his supposed condition,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “As a business owner, he should have understood the potential for severe consequences of misrepresenting his ability to work.”
BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) received an anonymous allegation that Dickerson was operating a lawn care business while receiving workers’ compensation benefits following a workplace injury. The allegation also indicated Dickerson was asking his customers to pay him in cash so he would not be traced by BWC.
SID conducted surveillance on multiple occasions and observed Dickerson using a push mower, riding mower, leaf blower and weed trimmer at residential, retail and church properties. This work activity all occurred while Dickerson was receiving Permanent Total Disability. SID interviewed customers who confirmed they paid Dickerson by check and cash for mowing their lawns. Dickerson acknowledged during an interview that he knew he should not have been working.
Dickerson was indicted in June and pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud November 14. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for a three year period of community control. He was also ordered to pay $18,673.06 in restitution and $10,000 in investigation costs.
Source: Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
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