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28 charged in million-dollar workers comp scheme

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Nearly 30 injured workers, physicians and claims examiners around Dallas have been charged with fraudulently billing the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Worker Compensation Programs for more than $9.5 million, the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Texas said.

As a result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and other departments, 28 people have been charged in a health care scheme involving bribes, unnecessary medical treatment, falsification of medical documents and fraudulent billing, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, John Parker, said Monday in a statement.

On Monday, the 21 injured workers, four health care providers and an employee of one, a senior claims examiner at the Labor Department and a claims representative at department signed papers indicating their intent to plead guilty to crimes related to the theft of more than $9.5 million from the Office of Worker Compensation Programs, according to the statement.

For example, one of the defendants, Larry Washington, was a licensed professional counselor and ran businesses known as AAA Mental Health L.L.C., Mind Spa Inc., Solutions Health and Rehabilitation and Convergence Emergence Diversion, according to the statement. Mr. Washington is charged with paying injured workers $100 each time they falsified medical documentation so he could bill for services he didn't provide.

He and other providers each are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud which, upon conviction, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, the statement says.

The Labor Department has made about $11.4 million in payments to the 21 injured workers, with an estimated $11 million pending in future payments, according to the statement.

“This office will continue to vigorously pursue those who fraudulently obtain benefits at the expense of those who have a legitimate need,” Mr. Parker said.

Arraignment dates have not yet been set.