Paperwork Troubles

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New York state’s Workers’ Compensation Board website has more than 200 forms associated with filing a claim. They range from the initial claimant form that starts the whole process to a proof of death form. A Buffalo man altered a few forms related to his on-the-job injury at a local correctional facility, probably thinking that no one would look too closely at the details. (Considering there were potentially 489,390 workers compensation claims to process in 2017 with a combination of any of the 200+ forms to review for each of those cases, I bet the former correctional officer was counting on the form processors not paying too much attention to the details.) Fortunately for the Compensation Board, someone was paying very close attention to the workers’ compensation fraud scam the man was trying to run.

The former corrections officer, who was previously employed by the Wyoming Correctional Facility, supposedly incurred an injury in December of 2017 and began receiving workers’ compensation benefits the following month. He submitted two forms – the Documentation for Workers’ Compensation Leave form and the Work Release form – complete with signatures from his medical providers. (Both were intended to justify why he could not work.)

This is where the former state employee got into a bit of paperwork trouble. Today’s fraud article does not state what tipped off the investigation, but revealed that the documents submitted were altered versions. (I’d be willing to bet that his medical providers did not agree with his claim of being unable to work.) The altered workers’ compensation forms enabled the man to collect $4,268.69 in undeserved benefits over six months.

The 31-year-old fraudster pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud for stealing more than $4,000 in indemnity benefits he did not deserve through the submission of fraudulent paperwork. (Obviously, he was deemed unfit for public service and subsequently submitted his resignation. He also paid back the amount of money he stole from the Compensation Board). Further research shows that the man was sentenced to a conditional discharge. (In New York, this means that the defendant cannot get arrested for another crime within one year of being convicted.)

One would think that by guarding prisoners, the former correctional officer would have an inside view on what it’s like to be punished for committing a crime. (You would also think that his on-the-job experience would be a huge motivation for not committing a crime.) This young man from Buffalo was fortunate enough to get a break for making such a blatant and deliberate mistake. (While he got off easy this time, you can be sure that if he ever attempts another crime, his paperwork troubles will follow him for the rest of his life in the form of a rap sheet.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on the article, “Corrections officer pleads guilty in workers compensation fraud case,” published by The Daily News Online on April 12, 2019.  

BUFFALO — A former corrections officer at Wyoming Correctional Facility has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $4,000 in benefits through fraudulent paperwork.

Brendon Clontz, 31, of Buffalo pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and submitted proof of his resignation from state service Thursday in Wyoming County Court, according to state Workers’ Compensation Fraud Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.