Washington Man Fakes Work Injuries, Cons Hospitals

A 41-year-old Bremerton, Wash., man has been sentenced to 26 months in prison for defrauding hospitals to get painkillers.

Robert B. Boyer, Jr., pleaded guilty recently to 10 felony counts of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances, according to the Washington Attorney General’s Office.

Boyer was accused of making 51 visits to more than two dozen emergency rooms and urgent-care clinics throughout Western Washington to get prescriptions for Vicodin, Percocet and other painkillers.

King County Superior Court Judge Monica Benton accepted the plea last week, and ordered Boyer to serve 26 months in prison, repay the hospitals and clinics, and participate in a drug treatment program for drug offenders.

A Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation found that Boyer showed up with visible cuts and other injuries, seeking painkillers at emergency rooms over a three-month period starting in November 2012.

Boyer claimed he suffered the injuries while working as an ironworker, but held no such job. In addition, charging papers said, he provided false names and false Social Security numbers in an effort to open workers’ compensation claims.

L&I covers medical expenses for legitimate workplace injuries. In these cases, however, Boyer left medical facilities with an estimated $147,000 in unpaid fees. The Department of Labor & Industries pays medical costs for legitimate claims, but in these cases, Boyer left hospitals to pick up the tab.

Boyer hit medical providers throughout Western Washington, from small locally owned clinics to multiple facilities in the UW Medicine, MultiCare and Franciscan health systems.

As part of a plea agreement, the Attorney General’s office will dismiss 15 similar counts in Pierce County, but Boyer has agreed to also repay the hospitals in those charges. The specific amount of restitution will be determined at a hearing April 30.

“This was a particularly flagrant example of someone abusing the workers’ comp and health systems to get prescription drugs by fraud,” said Elizabeth Smith, L&I assistant director of Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards. “Drug-seekers need to know our investigators will find you and hold you responsible.”

Source: Washington State Department of Labor & Industries