For immediate release: December 14, 2015
BWC investigations result in five workers' comp fraud convictions in November
Columbus - Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer announced today that five individuals were convicted of,
or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio's workers' compensation system in November 2015. These court actions are the result
of investigations conducted by BWC's Special Investigations Department (SID).
"Identifying and weeding out fraud is an essential part of not only maintaining fairness, but keeping workers' comp costs manageable for
Ohio employers," said Buehrer.
The following is a summary of the cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions in November:
Latonia Almon (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Nov. 16 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers' compensation fraud
in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for working while receiving benefits. A cross match with the Ohio Department of Job and
Family Service conducted by BWCâ€™s Intelligence Unit identified Almon as possibly working while receiving temporary total disability
benefits. SID obtained employment records that revealed Almon she continued to work as a home health aide during the entire period
she was collecting benefits for a workplace injury. During an interview, Almon admitted to "kinda" working and receiving payment
for the services she provided. Almon admitted she did not inform the BWC of this employment. A pre-sentence investigation
has been ordered and sentencing is scheduled for January 15, 2016.
Robert Aleshire (Delta, Fulton County) pleaded guilty Nov. 3 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a fifth-degree
felony count of theft for working while receiving benefits. SID's Intelligence Unit identified that Alshire was involved in a Public
Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) motor vehicle inspection as a commercial truck driver while he was collecting permanent total
disability benefits from BWC. The investigation found that Aleshire was driving as an independent contractor under the name MoMo
Trucking. The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation and Aleshire is scheduled to be sentenced on January 13, 2016.
Sandra Houshel (Dayton, Montgomery County) pleaded guilty Nov. 19 in the Franklin County Municipal Court to one first-degree
misdemeanor count of workers' compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. The judge ordered her to pay a fine of $100
plus court costs. SID began investigating after receiving an allegation that Houshel was working at a restaurant in downtown Dayton
while collecting temporary total disability benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation found that Houshel was working at
the restaurant most the week, opening the restaurant and working as a waitress. Houshel immediately paid the full restitution of
$3,369.24 to the court.
Mike Crawley (Shelbyville, Indiana) pleaded guilty Nov. 16 in the Darke County Court of Common Pleas to one fifth-degree felony
count of workers' compensation fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID began investigating after receiving an allegation that
Crawley may be working for a local trailer park. The investigation found that Crawley performed various maintenance work at the mobile
home park while collecting temporary total disability benefits from BWC. Crawley is scheduled to be sentenced on January 16, 2016.
Rachel Madison (Bedford, Cuyahoga County) pleaded guilty Nov. 23 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a fifth-degree
felony count of workers' compensation fraud for improperly receiving dependent death benefits. Madison was eligible to receive death
benefits up to age 25 if enrolled at an accredited educational institution. SID received an allegation that she was submitting proof
of college enrollment to the BWC in order to receive the benefits but was not attending the classes. Madison's course schedule from
the University of Akron showed that either she failed to attend classes or did not remain in full-time status. She failed to report
to BWC that she did not attend classes and was not enrolled as a full-time student but submitted paperwork to BWC in order to continue
receiving the benefits. Madison was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for five years of community control. As a condition
of her probation, she is required to pay $12,319.98 in restitution.
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.
Follow BWC on Twitter.
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