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Washington state bar owner accused of comp fraud

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A Washington man is accused of running a bar while claiming he was too injured to work, a scheme that allegedly provided him more than $230,000 in state workers compensation and federal disability benefits, according to state regulators.

Dennis J. Bennett, 63, of Veradale, Washington, was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Spokane County Superior Court on two charges of felony, first-degree theft, according to a press release issued Friday by Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries.

Investigators say Mr. Bennett wrongfully received more than $188,000 in wage-replacement benefits from Labor & Industries and more than $47,000 in Social Security disability cash benefits at various times from 2012 to 2016, all while operating his Spokane, Washington-based restaurant and bar where investigators surveilled him serving drinks and stocking cabinets, according to a press release.

He had originally claimed to suffer knee, back and neck injuries while working for a trucking company in 2002.   

"It's possible to legally receive workers' comp and Social Security benefits at the same time," said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards, in the statement. "But people need to tell the truth if they go to work or their physical abilities change.”