Six individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in February 2014, according to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer.
The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID). The department works to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud.
“From investigators to claims service specialists, and even other agencies, we have many sets of eyes watching for signs of workers’ compensation fraud,” Buehrer said. “These attentive eyes, along with valuable tips from across the state that bring attention to potential fraud, provide outstanding support in our work to protect the State Insurance Fund.”
The following case information represents a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during February.
- William Mcie pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, for working while receiving workplace injury benefits. An allegation was received that Mcie was working as a self-employed carpenter. Mcie was observed arriving at multiple work locations and suppliers. Interviews with Mcie’s customers and suppliers confirmed he returned to work while concurrently receiving temporary total disability benefits between May 2008 and September 2012. Sentencing is set for April 2.
- Lonnie Mace pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, for working while receiving workplace injury benefits. An allegation was made after a cross match with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Investigators found Mace was receiving permanent total disability benefits while a driver of a commercial vehicle during a 2010 safety inspection. They also found that Mace was employed by a trucking company prior to and during the inception of his benefits. Mace’s benefits were terminated and a lump sum advancement of his benefits was declared overpaid, totaling $103,174.34 due to BWC. Sentencing is scheduled for April 3.
- Joshua Collmar was sentenced to six months of incarceration after pleading guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony, for working while receiving workplace injury benefits. He was credited for serving six months in jail. He’s currently serving a prison sentence until 2015 for an unrelated matter. The overpayment amount is $6,021.07. Investigators opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Collmar was scrapping junk vehicles while collecting temporary total disability benefits. SID agents obtained evidence from scrap yards and interviewed customers, who verified that Collmar scrapped junk vehicles and was paid cash for his services.
- Adam Ostermanwas placed on community control for five years after he pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. The conditions of his community control include paying restitution to the BWC in the amount of $59,213.83, obtaining/maintaining employment, and paying court costs. If he violates the terms of his community control, Osterman will serve eight months in prison. Osterman was a death benefit recipient after his father was killed in an industrial accident. Osterman was eligible to receive death benefits up to age 25 if enrolled at an accredited educational institution. An allegation was received that Osterman bragged about enrolling in classes and dropping them to obtain BWC death benefits. The investigation found that from January 2010 to November 2012, Osterman submitted documentation to the BWC to show that he enrolled in classes at a community college in Dayton, but never attended classes or dropped the classes after submitting the documentation to the BWC.
- John Neeley was sentenced to 180 days in jail with credit for 59 days, and 121 days were suspended for three years of community control, after pleading guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, for working while receiving workplace injury benefits. An allegation was received that Neeley was working while collecting BWC disability. The investigation revealed records and surveillance video that confirmed Neeley returned to self-employed work performing several different concrete installation jobs for several customers between July and October 2012. Neeley fled to Florida once he was aware of the investigation and a warrant was issued in Ohio for his arrest. Neeley was arrested in Florida on unrelated charges and extradited back to Ohio. Terms of his community control include basic supervision with telephone reporting allowed provided Neeley make a good faith effort to obtain/maintain employment, and payment of restitution totaling $6,878.14, including $2,000 for investigative costs. Neeley must pay $250 a month and at least $2,250 by Dec. 31, or he will be sent to jail for the remainder of his sentence.
Source: Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
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