The intention behind correction is to foster improvement. Teachers correct children’s homework to help them learn; parents correct children to influence good behavior; and, law enforcement officers correct offenders by imposing appropriate punishment such as community service, jail time, fines and restitution to rehabilitate them into law abiding citizens. But, what happens when the person who needs to be corrected happens to be a corrections officer? A former corrections officer from Ashburnham, Massachusetts got into trouble over workers’ compensation fraud by illegally collecting disability benefits.
The man at the center of today’s case worked for 10 years as a corrections officer at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office before he injured his lower-back while breaking up a fight between inmates at a West Boylston correction facility. He was seen by medical personnel, who confirmed he qualified for workers’ compensation disability payments.
When he was asked to return to work in a light-duty capacity, he declined stating that he was still taking prescription painkillers and could not go back to work. I’m guessing this raised the suspicions of his employer, so investigators began to follow the former corrections officer around to verify his claims. (And, as you might guess, he was not telling the truth.)
At the same time the former corrections officer was claiming he couldn’t go back to work, he was running a private snow removal and construction business. Investigators hired by the Sheriff’s Office, caught the man on videotape operating a backhoe, climbing up and down ladders, and get this – swinging a sledgehammer. (Of course, you don’t need a strong back for that.)
Well, that incriminating evidence led the Sheriff’s Office to terminate the former corrections officer. But, the fired officer filed a grievance over the termination. (For crying out loud, he was caught red-handed.) The man negotiated with his employer to resign and the Sheriff’s Office agreed not to ask for the more than $15,895 in workers’ compensation benefits he had collected. (You’ve got to be kidding.)
So, what was the Massachusetts man’s punishment? The defendant’s lawyer presented a presentencing memo touting that the married father of three children had no previous criminal record, was a community volunteer and was strongly supported by his family who would suffer if he was convicted and unable to work. (Did anyone mention the lack of character this man had by ironically disobeying the law he was hired to uphold?)
The 38-year-old man admitted to sufficient facts for guilty findings on charges of workers’ compensation fraud, larceny and making a false claim to an employer. The judge continued the charges without findings for two years. (He’ll be on probation during that time.) He was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and report in to the Probation Department once a week. As long as he complies with probation and doesn’t get into any more trouble, the charges against him will be dismissed. (So, what do you think about the correction given to this corrections officer? Let’s hope he’s learned an important lesson and will tow the line as a law-abiding citizen from now on.)
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “In workers’ comp fraud case, former Worcester Sheriff’s Dept. officer gets probation,” published by Telegram & Gazette on February 28, 2018.
WORCESTER — Charges against a former correction officer accused of fraudulently collecting disability benefits for a work-related injury while working a private job have been continued without findings in Worcester Superior Court.
Thomas P. Roy, 38, of Ashburnham admitted to sufficient facts for guilty findings Tuesday on charges of worker’s compensation fraud, larceny and making a false claim to an employer. Judge Daniel M. Wrenn continued the charges without findings for two years, during which time Mr. Roy will be on probation, according to court records. As conditions of probation, Mr. Roy was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and report once a week to the Probation Department.