Jury Finds County Employee Not Guilty of Workers’ Comp Fraud

March 14, 2005

After a two-day trial, an Indian River County. Fla. jury found a former county employee not guilty this week on charges of workers’ compensation fraud, perjury in an official proceeding and third-degree grand theft.

Ernest Rider, 69, of Falls Creek, Pa., was a heavy-equipment operator when he filed a notice of injury with the county on March 23, 1987. Rider reported stepping onto a mixer, slipping and falling onto his back on Shell Road.

Patrick MacRae, Rider’s Vero Beach attorney, told the Vero Beach Press Journal the accident left his client permanently disabled.

During an insurance audit of permanently disabled beneficiaries, questions were raised about whether Rider had recovered to some degree, MacRae said.

Court records indicate Rider, who was receiving $732.50 in benefits every two weeks plus medical costs through the Florida League of Cities, was placed under surveillance in 2002.

Videotapes presented at trial showed Rider hauling buckets of feed and working on a bulldozer, Assistant State Attorney Adam Chrzan said.

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