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Media Advisory: May 2, 2011

Surveillance Video Captures Cleveland Man Committing Workers’ Comp Fraud

Luiz Paneto must repay $43,000 for working while receiving benefits

COLUMBUS – A Cleveland man has been sentenced after an undercover investigation captured video showing his work remodeling homes during a time in which he was receiving workers’ compensation benefits and claimed to be incapable of working. Luiz Paneto pleaded guilty to a fourth degree felony of workers’ compensation fraud in March and was ordered Friday to repay more than $43,000 he fraudulently received from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

“Workers’ comp fraud comes in many forms, and we will utilize all of our resources to detect, investigate and deter deception wherever it exists,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer. “Filing false or exaggerated claims are forms of fraud that are especially disturbing, given there are so many who would like to return to work but have very real injuries that keep them from their livelihoods.”

Paneto was working in construction for a general contractor when he sustained a workplace injury in 2001. He received Temporary Total Disability and Living Maintenance benefits from that time until he was granted Permanent Total Disability in 2007.

BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) received an anonymous complaint in 2009 stating that Paneto was working for a home remodeling company as a laborer and home remodeler. SID conducted surveillance and Paneto was seen walking, lifting heavy construction materials, driving his truck, and performing work as a home remodeler at numerous houses.

Paneto was interviewed at a job site in April, 2010 and admitted to working in violation of his receipt of BWC benefits. He admitted he was doing the same work he had done prior to his injury, and stated he knew he was prohibited from working while receiving Permanent Total Disability benefits. Paneto later attended a BWC hearing on his case wearing a large ankle brace and using the cane to walk.

Luiz Paneto was sentenced on April 29 in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to five years of community control and ordered to pay restitution of $24,122.47 and another $19,517.67 for investigative costs.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, visit ohiobwc.com, or call 1-800-OHIOBWC.

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