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Five plead guilty to workers compensation fraud in Ohio

Five plead guilty to workers compensation fraud in Ohio

Five people have pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding Ohio's workers compensation system, the state's Bureau of Workers' Compensation said Monday.

As a result of investigations conducted by the bureau's special investigations department, four people have pleaded guilty for working while receiving benefits and one person has pleaded guilty for improperly receiving dependent death benefits, bureau administrator and CEO Steve Buehrer said in a statement.

Latonia Almon, Robert Aleshire and Mike Crawley each pleaded guilty last month to fifth-degree felony counts of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits, according to the statement. They are scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Also in November, Sandra Houshel pleaded guilty to one first-degree misdemeanor count of workers comp fraud for waitressing at a restaurant while collecting temporary total disability benefits for a workplace injury, the statement says. She has already paid $3,369.24 in restitution.

Meanwhile, Rachel Madison was eligible to receive death benefits up to age 25 as long as she was enrolled at an accredited educational institution, according to the statement. However, investigators found that she did not attend classes and was not enrolled as a full-time student at the University of Akron, despite submitting proof of enrollment to the bureau to continue receiving benefits. She has been sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for five years of community control, and is required to pay $12,319.98 in restitution, the statement says.

“Identifying and weeding out fraud is an essential part of not only maintaining fairness, but keeping workers comp costs manageable for Ohio employers,” Mr. Buehrer said in the statement.

The bureau is Ohio's monopoly workers comp insurer, providing coverage to more than 254,000 Ohio employers, according to the bureau's website.

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