Ohio Home Healthcare Firm Owner Ordered to Pay $124K for Failing to Report Employees

November 10, 2014

An Ohio woman was sentenced Oct. 16 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay $124,573.07 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) after operating a home healthcare agency with more than 100 employees, but failing to report those employees to various state agencies. Lawanna Porter previously pleaded guilty Aug. 21 to one count of aggravated theft, a third-degree felony, one count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a fourth-degree felony, and four counts of forgery, fifth-degree felonies.

“Employer payroll information and employee totals are used to calculate workers’ compensation premiums,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “It’s critical that we receive the correct information to ensure that our calculations are accurate. We’re pleased the numbers are corrected and this employer has been ordered to pay the proper amount.”

BWC received an allegation from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit that Porter operated Palladium Healthcare, a home healthcare agency with locations in Ashtabula and Bedford Heights, but failed to report employees to state agencies. Investigators with BWC’s Special Investigations Department Employer Fraud Team worked with the Attorney General’s Office to investigate the matter; they found that Porter denied having any employees to BWC. Using bank records and policy information, BWC investigators found that Porter should have paid an additional $124,573.07 in workers’ compensation premiums between 2010 and 2012.

Palladium Healthcare LLC, of which Porter was a co-defendant, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated theft, a third-degree felony. Porter’s sentencing included that charge as well.

Both of the Palladium Healthcare locations are closed.

In addition to restitution, Porter was ordered to pay BWC $15,000 in investigative costs, for a total of $139,573.07. She was also sentenced to five years of community control. If she violates the terms of her sentencing, Porter could be sent to prison for 11.5 years.

Source: Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

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