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Work comp attorney who hired injured client for office work charged with fraud

When most of us envision workers' compensation fraud, we probably think of the office worker who fakes a knee sprain or the industrial worker who is dishonest about the extent/severity of their back injury. While this is arguably what happens the majority of the time, it's also important to realize that work comp fraud can sometimes be an altogether intricate endeavor involving multiple parties and complex planning.

Consider a recent case out of Ohio, where a workers' compensation attorney recently pleaded guilty to criminal charges for complicity to commit work comp fraud.

According to sources, 54-year-old Natalie G. represented a woman who was injured while working as a truck driver and was able to secure her temporary total disability benefits due to the severity of the injury.

Sometime in the future, however, officials with the Ohio's Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) received a tip that this supposedly injured woman was actually working in Natalie G.'s office.

Specifically, the tipster informed the BWC that Natalie G. and the injured woman entered into an agreement whereby the injured woman would secretly work as an assistant for the law office while still collecting her work comp benefits.

Personnel in the BWC's Special Investigation Division (SID) launched an investigation into the matter and soon confirmed from a series of interviews (including one with the injured woman) that an illegal agreement had indeed been reached between the two parties.

Natalie G. was eventually charged with one misdemeanor count of complicity to commit work comp fraud and pleaded guilty just last month. As part of her sentence, she was ordered to pay $7,709.92 in restitution, $6,731.55 for investigative costs and a $500 fine.

"As an attorney, [Natalie G.] had to be well aware that she could not argue her client was unable to work while simultaneously serving as that client's employer," said BWC Administrator Steve Buehrer. "This case is another reminder that we must be vigilant about putting an end to fraud being committed by anyone involved in the workers' comp system."

This might not mark the end of the matter for Natalie G., however, as her case has been referred to the Disciplinary Counsel of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Workers compensation fraud/employee fraud is a very serious crime. If you suspect that such a crime has been perpetrated against your organization, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced workers' comp defense attorney.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Names have been withheld to protect the identity of the parties.

Source:

Ohio's Bureau of Workers' Compensation, "Medina attorney who employed injured worker guilty of workers' comp fraud," Feb. 8, 2013

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