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For immediate release: August 29, 2016
Fugitive with double identity convicted of workers' comp fraud
COLUMBUS - A Toledo man with a long arrest record was convicted of workers' compensation fraud last week after investigators discovered he had lied to his physician and used a fake identity to collect injured workers' benefits.
David Abitua, 51, pleaded guilty Aug. 18 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to one count of workers' compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. He was arrested July 19, more than a year after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
"If you try to cheat the workers' compensation system, even while hiding under a false identity, we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," said Sarah Morrison, Administrator/CEO for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). “Workers' compensation fraud raises costs for everyone in the system and diverts resources needed for injured workers and making Ohio workplaces safer."
Acting on a tip, BWC's Special Investigations Department (SID) discovered in 2014 that Abitua had lied to his physician, used a false social security number and an alias of Jose L. Vasquez to collect injured workers' benefits from Nov. 2, 2009 until Oct. 6, 2012. SID found Abitua was using the alias to conceal that he was wanted by police and had numerous local arrest warrants issued against him under his real name, Abitua.
SID worked with the Northwest Ohio Fugitive Task Force to find Abitua and have him arrested. The arrest marked Abitua's ninth in Lucas County since 1988, according to the Lucas County Sheriff's Office. Most of those arrests involved drug- and alcohol-related charges and traffic offenses.
On the workers' compensation fraud charge, the Franklin County judge fined Abitua court costs and sentenced him to six months community control, plus one year in jail if he violates the terms of his probation. He gave Abitua credit for 41 days already served.
A photo of David Abitua can be found here.
To report suspected workers' compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.
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