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For immediate release: June 23, 2015

Ohio State Highway Patrol veteran to lead BWC fraud unit

COLUMBUS - Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer today announced the appointment of a 25-year Ohio State Highway Patrol veteran as director of BWC's Special Investigations Department. James Wernecke began his duties yesterday, overseeing 123 employees who work to deter, detect and investigate workers' compensation fraud. The department pursues cases of claimant, medical provider and employer fraud by identifying savings, disallowing claims and referring criminal matters for prosecution.

"With more than 25 years of law enforcement experience, Jim is a public safety and criminal investigation expert who is exceptionally qualified to lead our fraud prevention efforts," said Buehrer. "We look forward to having Jim join our outstanding team of skilled, professional investigators and take the lead in identifying wrongdoing to protect the State Insurance Fund, keep employer premiums as low as possible and provide the best care possible to Ohioans injured on the job."

A Tuscawaras County native, Wernecke began his career as a trooper in Massillon in 1990 and later served as an investigator in Massillon and Bucyrus, and commander at the Mansfield Patrol Post. He was appointed in 2012 commander of the Ohio Investigative Unit, which is charged with enforcing the state’s liquor laws and is the only state law enforcement agency specifically tasked with investigating food stamp fraud crimes. Agents also investigate tobacco violations.

Wernecke served as an investigative team leader with the Ohio Inspector General's Task Force and was also assistant commander of the Special Operations Office of Investigative Services from 2006 to 2012.

Wernecke completed advanced law enforcement and investigative training at a number of law enforcement agencies in and outside of Ohio, including the United States Army War College, the West Virginia and Delaware State Police, the New York State Police Academy, Ohio University and the Ohio State University. He also attended the Northwestern University for Public Safety and North Central State College.

A photo of James Wernecke is available here.

From January 2011 to present, BWC’s Special Investigations Department obtained 601 convictions, identifying a total of $260 million in savings for the State Insurance Fund.

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