Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Reports Seven Convictions for Workers Comp Fraud

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer recently announced seven individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio's workers comp system during a 30-day period. The court actions are the result of investigations conducted by BWC's Special Investigations Department (SID), which works to deter, detect, investigate, and prosecute workers comp fraud.

The following is a sampling of cases that resulted in a guilty plea or a conviction.
Nancy Madewell, dba Bagel Cafe Inc. (Kettering, Montgomery County), pleaded guilty to three counts of failure to comply for operating her business without workers comp coverage. Numerous attempts were made by BWC's Employer Compliance Department to bring Madewell into compliance, but she continued to operate without proper workers comp coverage. Madewell failed to appear for trial and a warrant was issued. She then reported to Kettering Municipal Court in response to the warrant and entered a guilty plea. Madewell was sentenced to 60 days in jail suspended on the condition of not violating her three-year, unsupervised probation. [WCx]
Jose Ramirez (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) was sentenced to one felony count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Ramirez was working on cars in his driveway. The investigation found that Ramirez was working for a transmission repair service while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Ramirez conducted various tasks, such as, sweeping the floors, cleaning the shop, delivering parts to customers, picking up parts from suppliers, supervising/assisting other mechanics with repairs, and driving business tow trucks to pick up vehicles. Ramirez worked up to four days per week and was paid in cash. Ramirez pleaded guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court and was convicted.
Mitchell Oakley (Harrod, Allen County) pleaded guilty to one count of workers comp fraud for filing a false claim. Oakley filed a claim indicating he was injured on his first day of work for an employer. However, SID found that Oakley was actually injured moving boxes at home prior to his employment. He was sentenced in Lima Municipal Court to 30 days suspended and must repay $150 in court costs.
Victoria Hall (Toledo, Lucas County) was sentenced to a felony count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID investigators obtained undercover surveillance video showing her working at a convenience store while receiving temporary total disability benefits. Hall was previously injured at the same gas station and returned to work there after the gas station was under a different name and owner. Hall admitted to wrongdoing during an interview and pleaded guilty. Hall was sentenced to three years of community control and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $7,754.97 and investigative costs of $1,000. The conditions of her community control are to pay the restitution and maintain employment. If Hall violates her probation, the judge stated that he will send her to jail for a term of 12 months.
Nancy Palmer (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) was sentenced on a felony count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation that Palmer had been working at a local veterinary hospital. Investigators found she had returned to work as a veterinary assistant while receiving temporary total disability benefits. She was performing duties such as office work, assisting during surgeries, cleaning and taking care of animals. It was also found that Palmer was working as a telephone solicitor for a local charity. Palmer entered a guilty plea and the judge ordered her to pay $7,457.72 in restitution and $1,000 for investigative costs. She was also sentenced to seven months in prison suspended, for 18 months of community control. [WCx]
Randall Schornack (Austintown, Mahoning County) was sentenced on a felony count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an anonymous tip on the fraud hotline that Schornack was working as a disc jockey at area bars under the name "DJ Randy Stevens." SID's investigation determined that Schornack was working as a DJ for several bars in Mayfield and also for a professional DJ service in Girard while receiving temporary total disability benefits. The SID obtained video of Schornack unloading and carrying speakers and other equipment from his vehicle into different establishments on a weekly basis and performing work services as a DJ. Schornack was ordered to pay $27,202.62 in restitution He was also sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended, for five years of community control.
Information from Ohio BWC

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.





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