W. Va. Workers’ Comp Investigator Receives Award

October 15, 2004

A West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission fraud and abuse investigator was to be honored on Friday for her work by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lisa Prater, manager of the Fraud & Abuse Investigations Unit in the Commission’s Office of Inspector General, was to receive the Justice Department’s 2004 Law Enforcement and Victim Assistance Award during ceremonies at the University of Charleston Rotunda.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hunter Smith nominated Prater for the award based upon her work in the investigation of Sherpa Software Group, formerly known as Ciscorp. The Justice Department also will recognize Steven Rowley of the Internal Revenue Service; former Fraud & Abuse Unit investigator Vickie Neal, now with the National Insurance Crime Bureau; Steve Staton of the Commission on Special Investigations; and Bill Marshall of the West Virginia State Police.

“Our employees spent hundreds of hours on this case,” said Mike Jordan, inspector general for the Commission. “Lisa Prater and Vickie Neal worked full time on this case for about 18 months. This recognition is richly deserved.”

The investigation centered around allegations that Ciscorp and Victor M. Dibartolo submitted false invoices for payment to the Workers’ Compensation Commission for work that had not been completed. Smith prosecuted the case.

Dibartolo pleaded guilty May 17 to one count of mail fraud from the original 11-count indictment and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in property derived from a specified unlawful activity. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay $83,005 in restitution.

The company also pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud from the original 11-count indictment. It was sentenced to a one-year probationary period and ordered to pay $552,265 in restitution.

The Commission to date has received about $320,000 of the total restitution of $635,270 ordered in the case by U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr.

“This is a great honor for our Commission,” said Executive Director Gregory A. Burton. “We hope this case sends a message that abuse of workers’ compensation in West Virginia will not be tolerated.”

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