Former W. Va. Claims Manager Sentenced in Scam

March 18, 2005

A former claims manager of the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation
Commission has been sentenced to two years on probation and fined $2,500 in connection with a reported scheme to refer injured workers to a Pennsylvania rehabilitation company.

Denise Miller pleaded guilty in December 2004 to a misdemeanor charge of “accepting an unlawful reward for past behavior.” Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker also ordered Miller to continue to cooperate with any investigation by the WCC Office of Inspector General’s Fraud & Abuse unit. Miller had faced up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

The Commission terminated Miller in August as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Miller reportedly made referrals of injured workers, “in exchange for payment of either $50 or $75 per claim, depending on the value of the claim,” according to an affidavit for the criminal complaint against Miller. The incidents involving Miller occurred around June 2002.

In other court action, Thomas Linkous of the OIG’s prosecution unit worked with Brooke County Prosecutor David Cross to obtain indictments against two Wellsburg residents in separate workers’
compensation cases.

A Brooke County grand jury indicated Robert Jones, 35, owner of Jones & Sons Construction, on three counts of failure to file premium tax reports with the Workers’ Compensation Commission and three counts of failure to pay workers’ comp premiums for different quarters in 2004. All six charges are felonies and carry a possible penalty of one to 10 years and prison and a $2,500 fine.

Jones reportedly failed to appear for arraignment last Monday and a capias warrant was issued for his arrest.

Brenda Curtis, 44, was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond last Monday following arraignment on two felony charges and a misdemeanor charge.

She is accused of staging a fall while working at a cash register at a Wal-Mart store in May 2004.

Curtis faces felony charges of attempting to receive workers’ comp benefits to which she was not entitled and filing false documents. The grand jury also indicted Curtis on a misdemeanor charge of making false statements.

She could face one to 10 years in prison, or one year in a regional jail plus a $2,500 fine, on each of the felony counts.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled April 15.

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