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A worker in Washington state pleaded guilty to stealing more than $14,000 in disability benefits after he was caught racing BMX bikes, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries said.
Tony T. Perry Sr., who worked in grounds maintenance, received workers compensation benefits for injuries he suffered while lifting a heavy box, according to a statement from the labor department, which is Washington state’s monopoly workers comp insurer.
Mr. Perry pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree theft on Thursday in Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia, Washington. He was ordered to repay the labor department $14,422, the amount he received in workers comp wage-replacement checks between January 2012 and August 2013, the statement says.
A Labor & Industries investigation found that, since January 2012, Mr. Perry had been racing BMX bicycles, which is physically demanding and typically requires riders to jump in the air, according to the statement.
Case investigators videotaped Mr. Perry competing in two races, the labor department statement says. They also found numerous BMX-related Facebook posts, including one about a May 2012 race in which Mr. Perry said he crashed and injured his ribs. However, he told the labor department he hurt himself when he fell in his home as a result of his work injuries.
According to the statement, Mr. Perry was also sentenced to 364 days in jail, but the judge suspended all but 15 days if he obeys the law for two years. He’s allowed to serve the 15 days under electronic home monitoring.
“It’s outrageous when people try to scam the workers comp system so boldly,” Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of fraud prevention and labor standards for the department, said in the statement. “A tip from the public helped us get to the bottom of this. We appreciate it, and encourage people to tell us when they’re aware of workers comp fraud.”
A law firm that helped an injured worker recover underpaid workers compensation benefits can't receive legal fees from the claimant's award since it was used to recoup prior benefits the worker had been overpaid, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled.