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For immediate release: Jan. 26, 2018

Funeral escort earns felony conviction for work comp fraud

Judge shows little sympathy, orders $10K in restitution


COLUMBUS - A Columbus man injured in 2014 while working as a motorcycle escort for funeral processions must reimburse the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) more than $10,400 after pleading guilty to workers' compensation fraud Wednesday in a Columbus courtroom.

Acting on a tip, BWC investigators conducted surveillance and collected evidence proving Oran Lewis, 66, worked for two different funeral homes in 2015 while collecting disability benefits from BWC.

"It doesn't matter if you're driving a vehicle or doing hard labor - it's against the law to collect disability benefits from BWC when you're also working and making a living," said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC's special investigations department. "What's more, we're not talking about a one-time incident or occasional odd job here and there. We found Mr. Lewis performing this service 29 times between May and October of 2015."

Lewis confessed and cooperated with BWC when he was approached by agents.

A Franklin County Court of Common Pleas judge also sentenced Lewis to 180 days in jail (suspended) and one year of probation for the fifth-degree felony.

Click here for a photo of Lewis. Click here for surveillance video.

To report suspected workers' compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.

Media Contacts:

Melissa Vince, 614-466-2956 or 614-202-2329, melissa.vince@bwc.state.oh.us

Tony Gottschlich, 614-644-4940 or 614-296-1734, anthony.gottschlich@bwc.state.oh.us

Established in 1912, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation provides workers' compensation insurance to 244,000 public and private Ohio employers. With nearly 1,900 employees and assets of approximately $27 billion, BWC is the largest state-run insurance system in the United States. Our mission is to protect Ohio's workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates. For more, visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.

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