W. Va. WCC Reports Results from Recent Fraud Prosecution Hearings

May 19, 2005

West Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Commission’s fraud and abuse efforts reportedly continue to have a significant impact on those individuals and entities defrauding and abusing the workers’ compensation system.

Decisions were entered and sentences handed down recently in the following cases:

• State of West Virginia v. Myra Angell – On May 11, Judge Berger of Kanawha County imposed a one- to 10-year prison sentence for Angell’s plea of guilty to one felony count of workers’ comp fraud. She was previously indicted in 2003 for purportedly collecting $140,000 in
widow benefits related to the death of a former husband, while concealing the fact of two subsequent marriages. Angell, formerly of Kanawha County, was ordered to pay restitution of $18,000 in
addition to her jail sentence.

The Angell case reached the state Supreme Court in a challenge to the ability of Commission lawyers to serve as assistant county prosecutors. The challenge delayed prosecutions statewide for several
months. The court ruled in the Commission’s favor last December.

• State of West Virginia v. Marcia Berisford – Berisford, a St. Clairsville, Ohio resident, was indicted in January on a felony count of workers’ comp fraud occurring in Wheeling.

Allegedly, Berisford illegally continued to cash her deceased mother’s widows’ benefit checks from April 2003 to October 2003. The monthly amounts cashed were approximately $760, with the cumulative amount exceeding $5,300. On April 19, she pleaded guilty in Ohio County Magistrate Court to one misdemeanor count of fraudulently securing workers’ comp benefits to which she was not entitled. She received a six-month suspended sentence, was placed on probation for six months and was ordered to make full restitution.

• State of West Virginia v. Patricia Maynard – Maynard, a Hurricane resident, worked for Columbia Gas where she suffered a work-related back injury in the late ’90s. While under treatment, Maynard arrived at doctors’ appointments in a wheelchair. In 2003, she was reportedly observed elsewhere and otherwise engaging in normal activities around the community.

She was indicted in 2004 in Putnam County for workers’ comp fraud and was also indicted on a drug count involving painkillers. She pleaded guilty to the workers’ comp felony and was sentenced May 12 to two years probation and ordered to pay Columbia Gas approximately $4,000 in restitution.

The order also requires her to have a substance abuse examination and follow ups if necessary.

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