Attempt to Exaggerate Injury Scams $173,000 in Undue Benefits
A surveillance operation by the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) culminated recently with the sentencing of a Galion (Crawford County) couple who managed to scam hundreds of thousands of dollars in undue benefits designated for Ohioans injured on the job. Randy and Robin Hammond pleaded guilty in a Franklin County courtroom and must repay more than $173,000.
“This troubling video shows the Hammonds’ clear and blatant misuse of the workers compensation system,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “While no fraud case is small, this one has to be among the more brazen attempts to exaggerate an injury. I am pleased with the thorough work of our investigators and assistance from Attorney General DeWine in bringing this case to a close so we can put these funds to work assisting those who have truly been injured on the job.”
Claimed Unable to Use Arms & Legs with No Fine Motor Skills in Hands & Feet
Robin Hammond was a nurse’s aide and claimed a workplace injury left her unable to use her arms and legs and without fine motor skills in her hands and feet. Based on her diagnosis, she was granted permanent total disability and Bureau of Workers Compensation paid for special medical equipment, including an electric wheelchair and vehicle lift, a hospital bed and a Hoyer lift. However, BWC’s Special Investigations Department (SID) opened an investigation into Hammond after receiving allegation that she was not as injured as she claimed to be, and was engaged in physical activity.
Surveillance Shows No Apparent Injury and Use of All Four Limbs
SID conducted surveillance for approximately 10 months, gathering hours of video evidence revealing she had full use of all four limbs. Robin Hammond was regularly observed entering her physician’s office in a wheelchair, then walking without assistance after leaving her appointments. The video also shows her husband, Randy, assisting her into a wheelchair on several occasions before entering the physician’s office and later walking and talking with her without any apparent injury.
Couple Fled State and Was Extradited Back to Ohio
Investigators interviewed Robin, and the couple soon after fled the state. She failed to show up or respond to repeated requests to attend their civil hearing. Attorney General Mike
DeWine’s office issued a nationwide warrant for their arrest. They were located in Hurricane, Utah in February with the assistance of the SID’s Fugitive Task Force, Digital Forensics Unit, and the U.S. Marshall’s Service, and were extradited back to Ohio.
“This couple had many people convinced. Doctors, family members, and friends all believed Robin Hammond was severely disabled,” said Attorney General DeWine. “But evidence gathered by my office and the Bureau of Workers Compensation found that it was all an elaborate act, and we are thankful to the person who tipped off investigators.”
Both Pleaded Guilty, Sentenced to One Year in Prison and Fine
The case was heard at the Ohio Industrial Commission and all of Robin’s injury awards were found overpaid beginning in February 2007.
Both pleaded not guilty in March but changed their pleas and recently admitted guilt.
Robin Hammond pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers comp fraud and was sentenced to one year in prison with judicial release possible after six months. She was taken away in handcuffs. Randy Hammond pleaded guilty to one felony count of complicity and received five years of community control.
The couple was ordered to repay BWC $173,332.09.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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