Texas Man Convicted on Federal Workers’ Comp Charges

February 11, 2004

A Dallas jury convicted aviator Michael Lee Harms, of Grapevine, Texas, on federal charges that he defrauded the Office of Workers’ Compensation program.

The Associated Press reported that the charges stem from a workers’ comp claim filed by Harms in 1996. When working as an air traffic controller and pilot he apparently fell out of a chair and hurt his back. However, prosecutors alleged that Harms continued to work as an air freight pilot while collecting more than $359,000 in workers’ comp payments.

Harms also worked as president and CEO of Amber Aviation Inc., and served on the board of directors of the nonprofit organization of Challenge Air for Kids and Friends Inc.

He allegedly failed to report his work experience and resulting wages earned while collecting workers’ comp benefits, a violation of federal law.

Convicted of three counts of mail fraud and three counts of fraud to obtain federal employees’ compensation, Harms has a sentencing hearing May 6 and could serve up to 30 years in prison. He also faces a potential $1.5 million fine, as well as restitution.

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