Columbus – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer today announced that five individuals were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, charges related to defrauding Ohio’s workers’ compensation system in January 2014. The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID). The department works to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud.
“The faces of workers’ compensation fraud vary – it could be an employer, an employee or a medical provider,” said Buehrer. “Our Special Investigations Department is highly trained to detect and investigate all cases of workers’ compensation fraud for the purpose of protecting the State Insurance Fund.”
The following case information represents a sampling of cases that resulted in guilty pleas or convictions during January.
Darryl Franklin (Upper Arlington, Franklin County) was placed on five years of community control and ordered to pay $7,124.40 in restitution to the BWC for collecting improper death benefits. He pleaded guilty to theft, a first-degree misdemeanor. Investigators received an allegation from a BWC claims service specialist that they hadn’t been able to reach the widow of an injured worker, who died from a work-related injury in 1984; she was awarded death benefits after her husband died. Investigators confirmed that the woman, Franklin’s mother, died in January 2012. Since BWC was unaware of her death, compensation benefits continued to be paid to her bank account. Using bank surveillance cameras and account transaction records, investigators found that Franklin took BWC funds after her death.
Alberta Allen (Cincinnati, Hamilton County) was sentenced in connection with working and receiving benefits to serve 10 days in jail, which was suspended for time already served. Allen, who pleaded guilty to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, had previously settled her BWC claim and overpayment of $3,290.05. SID began investigating when a data cross match with another state agency revealed Allen received wages from another company from September 2011 to April 2012 while collecting workers comp benefits.
Daniel Squibbs (Orwell, Ashtabula County) was sentenced for working while receiving benefits. He pleaded guilty Jan. 13 to one count of theft, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 14 days in jail, which was suspended for payment of court costs. He had previously submitted a $2,882 payment to BWC to cover restitution. Investigators received an allegation that Squibbs was working while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Employment records confirmed that Squibbs worked at a restaurant while receiving benefits.
Tariq Arif (Fairfield, Hamilton County) was ordered to pay nearly $70,000 in restitution and investigative costs to BWC for billing for treatment not rendered to injured workers. He pleaded guilty Jan. 13 to one count of workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, as part of a plea agreement. SID agents posed as injured workers and sought treatment from Arif’s chiropractic and rehabilitation clinic. A search warrant was executed as well. Arif was sentenced to serve 180 days in jail, which was suspended for five years of community control. He was also ordered to pay $10,169.96 in restitution and $59,186.20 in investigative costs as a term of his community control.
More can be read at bwc.ohio.gov