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For immediate release: April 15, 2015
BWC investigations result in nine workers' comp fraud convictions in March
Columbus - Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer announced today that nine individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio's workers' compensation system in March 2015. These court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC's Special Investigations Department (SID).
"We encourage anyone who suspects past or current fraudulent activity to contact us using our online fraud reporting form or fraud hotline," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Our investigators follow-up on every tip, and when warranted, conduct research to determine whether or not workers' compensation fraud occurred."
The following is a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during March:
Anthony Robinson (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty March 18 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers' compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. He applied for a job with a company in June 2013, but was not hired. On two occasions in July and October 2013, Robinson went to a hospital emergency department and claimed to have been injured while working for that same company. He filed two separate claims with BWC for these alleged injuries, which were both disallowed by the Industrial Commission of Ohio. Investigators confirmed that Robinson was not a company employee on either date he claimed to have been injured. He was sentenced to serve 90 days in jail, which was suspended on the condition that he pays fines and court costs.
Celeste Chappell-Bates (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty and was sentenced March 23 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on one count of workers' compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. A cross-match with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services led to the discovery that Chappell-Bates earned wages during time periods when she received BWC benefits. SID investigators obtained evidence that Chappell-Bates worked for four different companies during a two-year period while receiving multiple forms of BWC benefits. She was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution within 30 days and was placed on community control for five years. She was also sentenced to serve 12 months at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, which is suspended as long as she complies with the terms of community control.
Douglas Roop (Spencerville, Allen County) pleaded guilty March 24 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a bill of information charging him with one count of workers' compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. BWC received an allegation that Roop might have been working while receiving disability benefits. Investigators found that Roop worked for a restoration company between January 2012 and September 2013, and that he was paid in cash and was permitted to live in a home where the mortgage and utilities were paid for in exchange for his work. He also worked for a company that provides emergency response services. Roop is scheduled to be sentenced June 1.
Daniel Hess (Mineral Ridge, Trumbull County) pleaded guilty March 12 in Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers' compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. Investigators reviewed financial records, and conducted interviews and surveillance. They found that Hess worked as an independent construction contractor while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Injured workers are not permitted to work while receiving this type of benefit. Hess is scheduled to be sentenced May 20.
Michael Angelo (North Canton, Stark County) pleaded guilty March 3 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers' compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. BWC received an allegation on its fraud hotline that Angelo was working while receiving disability benefits. Investigators found that Angelo was working at two different "games of skill" businesses on a part-time basis while receiving temporary total disability benefits between October 2012 and August 2013. Angelo is scheduled to be sentenced May 15.
To report suspected workers' compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov. Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com, follow Fraud Fridays on Twitter @OhioBWCFraud, or join in the conversation at facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud. View and share BWC's workers' comp fraud awareness video on our YouTube channel.
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