As a pair of Ohio residents recently discovered, crime does not pay.
In one case, a Lima (Allen County) man was ordered to pay close to $7,000 in restitution and investigative costs for working while collecting workplace injury benefits.
John Neeley pleaded guilty Feb. 19 in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas after undercover investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation caught him with video evidence working while he was supposed to be recovering from a workplace injury.
“We received an allegation that Mr. Neeley was working while collecting BWC disability benefits, and once he became aware of the investigation, he fled to Florida,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “Thanks to the anonymous tipster and our hard-working investigators, he has now been sentenced for his crime.”
Investigators gathered records and surveillance video, which confirmed Neeley’s return to work; they discovered he performed concrete installation jobs for a number of customers between July and October 2012.
Defendant Receives Sentence of 180 Days in Jail
Neeley pleaded guilty to one count of workers comp fraud and was sentenced to 180 days in jail. He received 59 days of jail time credit, and the remaining 121 days were suspended for three years of community control.
The terms of his community control include basic supervision, with telephone reporting allowed as long as he makes a good faith effort to obtain/maintain employment and pay $4,878.14 in restitution and $2,000 in investigative costs to the BWC.
The judge ordered Neeley to pay $250 per month to the BWC. He must pay at least $2,250 by Dec. 31, or he will be sent to jail to serve the rest of his sentence.
Nearly $60K Must Be Repaid
Meantime, a Monroe (Butler County) man was ordered to repay nearly $60,000 in workers comp death benefits.
Adam Osterman pleaded guilty Feb. 13 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to one count of workers comp fraud, a fifth-degree felony.
“As the son of a worker killed on the job, Mr. Osterman was eligible to receive death benefits up to age 25, if he enrolled at an accredited educational institution,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “Our investigators found that he submitted proof of enrollment at a community college in Dayton, but didn’t attend classes or dropped the classes afterward. Thanks to the hard work of our Special Investigations Department, the money Mr. Osterman improperly received will be returned to the BWC.”
Investigators opened a case after receiving an allegation that Osterman bragged about enrolling in classes and dropping them to receive BWC death benefits.
They discovered that from 2010 to 2012, Osterman submitted documentation that he enrolled in community college classes, but either didn’t attend or withdrew from those classes after submitting documentation to the BWC.
Osterman was placed on community control for five years. Conditions of his community control include repaying $59,213.83 in restitution to the BWC, obtaining and maintaining employment, and paying court costs. Osterman will serve eight months in prison if these terms are violated.
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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