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For immediate release: April 1, 2016
Youngstown woman owes $94K after pleading guilty to workers' comp fraud
YOUNGSTOWN - A Youngstown (Mahoning County) woman has been ordered to repay the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) nearly $94,000 in workplace injury benefits she collected illegally. Zelma Forro pleaded guilty to workers' compensation fraud in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas.
"Ms. Forro was able to collect a substantial amount of money while claiming to be permanently disabled and knowingly working in violation of the law," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Fortunately, an anonymous tip helped our investigators put a stop to her deceit and these dollars will be returned to the State Insurance Fund to assist injured workers who are truly unable to return to work."
BWC's Special Investigations Department began investigating Forro after receiving an allegation from a confidential source who reported she was working for Home Savings and Loan bank during the same period of time she was on permanent total disability following a workplace injury. The source reported that Forro was working in the capacity of an independent contractor for this business, rather than a direct bank employee.
BWC investigators obtained documented evidence supporting the allegation that Forro was employed as an independent contractor for Home Savings and Loan bank. Forro was assessing distressed properties, completing property inspections, evaluating the general condition and obtaining the current photographs of such properties. Investigators relied on financial records, surveillance operations, and field interviews to substantiate this allegation.
Zelma Forro pleaded guilty Jan. 29 to a fourth-degree felony count of workers' compensation fraud. She was sentenced March 11 to eighteen months in jail, suspended for three years of community control under the condition that she pay restitution totaling $93,912.24.
To report suspected workers' compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.
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