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For immediate release: April 20, 2018

Ohio BWC secures five fraud-related convictions in March


COLUMBUS - The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation secured five fraud-related convictions in March and restitution orders totaling more than $41,000.

Those convicted include a remodeling contractor, a babysitter and the owner of a Dayton drive-thru business, as well as a landscaper and a graphic artist. The following cases bring BWC's total convictions this year to 12 as of March 31.

"Employers must have workers' comp insurance to support injured workers in their time of need," said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC's special investigations department. "With these cases closed, we can put their premium dollars back to work caring for injured workers and promoting safety in every Ohio workplace."

Scott Jones of Perrysburg, Ohio (Wood County), Working and Receiving
Jones was found guilty on March 21 of a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers' compensation fraud after investigators found him remodeling bathrooms, convenience stores and performing other construction work while collecting BWC benefits.

A Franklin County judge ordered Jones to pay BWC $3,957 in restitution by Oct. 30 this year or face 45 days in jail. Jones paid $1,000 toward the restitution when he appeared in court.

Sharrounda Fuller, Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County), Working and Receiving
Investigators discovered Fuller operating a day care out of her home while collecting workers' compensation benefits from her self-insured employer. She pleaded guilty March 20 to a fifth-degree felony count of workers' compensation fraud. She must pay $11,514 in restitution to her former employer, a home health care company, and serve five years of probation, according to her sentence in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Christine Niffa, dba Christy's Drive Thru, Dayton, Ohio (Montgomery County), Lapsed Coverage
BWC discovered that Christy's Drive Thru in Dayton had been operating with lapsed workers' comp coverage since March 2013. After charges were filed, Niffa appeared in court March 8 and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor. She paid BWC the balance due and her policy was reinstated.

Charles Parry, Plain City, Ohio (Union County), Working and Receiving
BWC investigators found Parry operating a landscaping business for 10 months while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Parry pleaded guilty March 8 to one count of theft, a first-degree misdemeanor. He paid restitution of $6,527 to BWC and was sentenced to one day in jail, suspended for time served.

John Bezusko, Tacoma, Washington, Working and Receiving
Injured on the job in 1991, Bezusko pleaded guilty to workers' compensation fraud March 5 after investigators found him working in Colorado while collecting BWC benefits. Bezusko must pay $19,530 in restitution to BWC and serve five years probation for the first-degree misdemeanor, according to his sentence in a Franklin County courtroom.

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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