PA Man and Wife Allegedly Cook up Kickback Scheme

A Commonwealth of Pennsylvania employee was arrested recently by agents from the Attorney General's Public Corruption Unit and charged with soliciting and receiving bribes in exchange for favorable treatment of businesses insured through the State Workmans Insurance Fund (SWIF).

Attorney General Linda Kelly identified the defendant as James McDonnell, 53, of Scranton, Lackawanna County. McDonnell is an auditing supervisor with SWIF, which is a division of the Department of Labor and Industry. Kelly noted that McDonnell's wife, Michelle McDonnell, 44, of the same address, was also arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy. [WCx]
According to the criminal complaint, between 1999 and 2011 James McDonnell and his wife received more than $80,000 through a scheme where he solicited and promised Pennsylvania business owners, who were insured through the SWIF program, that he could reduce their insurance premiums in exchange for kickback payments.
Kelly said that all businesses in Pennsylvania are required to carry workers comp insurance, which can be purchased through any private insurance company or can be obtained through the SWIF program.
The charges state that there were at least 15 instances where James McDonnell released refunds to businesses without documentation to support the transactions.
Kelly said that the bribes James McDonnell allegedly solicited were either paid directly to him in cash or by the solicited businesses putting his wife, Michelle McDonnell, on the company payroll as a ghost employee.
James McDonnell is charged with five counts of bribery in official and political matters, three counts of conflict of interest – restricted activities, three counts of conflict of interest – statement of financial interest required to be filed, two counts of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, and two counts of criminal conspiracy. [WCx]
Michelle McDonnell is charged with two counts of criminal conspiracy.

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:





Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.


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