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For immediate release: Nov. 16, 2016
BWC investigative unit nets 9 fraud convictions in October
One worker falls off tractor he took to bar, claims work injury
COLUMBUS - A nurse who stole a dead patient's electronic benefits card and a Southwest Ohio man who injured himself after using his employer's tractor to go to a bar are among nine Ohioans convicted of workers' compensation fraud in October, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) reported Wednesday.
"As guardians of the State Insurance Fund, we won't tolerate the theft or misuse of injured workers' benefits," said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. "The misappropriation of those funds raises the costs of workers' compensation coverage for everyone."
Toledo nurse Damita Frazier pleaded guilty Oct. 4 to petty theft, forgery and workers' compensation fraud, all fifth-degree felonies, after BWC's Special Investigations Department (SID) found she had taken a deceased patient's BWC benefits card and used it to purchase household items and food. She also gave the card to her son, Shaquille Malone, who used it to purchase food, jewelry, auto parts and gas.
Under a diversion agreement with the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, Frazier must serve two years probation, provide 50 hours of community service and pay $2,122 in restitution to BWC.
Malone pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of petty theft and agreed to pay $647 in restitution to BWC. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 13.
In Brown County in Southwest Ohio, worker Chris Owen of Georgetown filed a claim for workers' compensation after slipping and falling from a company tractor. Owen's employer was suspicious and reported him to BWC. Investigators determined Owen used the tractor after work hours without the owner's permission to travel to a local bar owned by his sister. The injury occurred when he returned the tractor to his employer.
Owen pleaded no contest in Brown County Municipal Court and was found guilty of workers' compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. A judge sentenced Owen to 180 days in jail, suspended, and one year of probation. He ordered Owen to pay BWC $2,366 in restitution.
As of Oct. 31, SID had landed 91 fraud convictions for the calendar year. Other convictions in October, starting with the most recent, include:
Tsige Kahsai, dba Boss Market, Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) – Failure to Comply
Anthony Crenshaw, Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) - Working and Receiving
Crenshaw pleaded guilty Oct. 6 to one count of workers' compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. A county common pleas judge ordered Crenshaw to pay $10,000 restitution to BWC. That money was already on deposit with the clerk of courts at the time of sentencing. The defendant was sentenced to two days in jail, with two days of jail-time credit. Costs and fines were waived.
Ray George, dba Spectrum Painting, Bellefontaine, Ohio (Logan County) - Lapsed Coverage
O.W. White, Cincinnati, Ohio (Hamilton County) - False Wages
A judge found White guilty and sentenced him to community control for five years and ordered him to pay restitution of $25,000 to BWC. If White violates the terms of his community control, he must serve 12 months in prison.
Kelly Smith, Piketon, Ohio (Pike County) - False Claim
A judge sentenced Smith to 17 days in jail and ordered him to pay $672 to BWC for its investigation. Smith had 17 days of jail-time credit and had already paid the $672 at the time of sentencing. Smith had previously been prosecuted for filing a false claim in 2010.
J. Keith Speed, dba Speed's Electrical Service, Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) - False Application for Coverage
To report suspected cases of workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.
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