Out of Character

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One definition of character is what someone does when no one is watching. An injured Ashburnham, Massachusetts man, who happened to be a former correction officer at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, wasn’t counting on his employer secretly videotaping him following an on-the-job injury. Before he got caught red-handed committing workers’ compensation fraud, he managed to collect nearly $16,000 in disability benefits.

According to today’s fraud article, the defendant had worked as a correction officer for a decade before suffering a lower-back injury. (He was injured when he responded to a fight between two inmates in a West Boylston correction facility.) At the time, the injury was properly documented and the man began collecting disability benefits. (Then, his employer decided it was time for him to come back to work.)

 The Sheriff’s office notified the corrections officer that he needed to return to work in a light-duty capacity. But, he said he could not because he was still taking prescription painkillers and could not return to work. (Apparently his employer was suspicious of his claim and over a six-month period hired investigators to videotape his comings and goings.)

 It turns out that this character was simultaneously running a private snow removal and construction business while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. (Investigators captured him operating a backhoe, climbing up and down a ladder and swinging a sledgehammer. Oops.)

Well, that was the last straw for the Sheriff’s office. The defendant was notified that his employment would be terminated. Subsequently, the man filed a grievance. (He probably didn’t know at the time he had been observed working.) Negotiations ensued and the former officer agreed to resign, while the Sheriff’s office decided not to collect the workers’ compensation benefits that had been collected.

The married father of three from Ashburnham, Massachusetts, who didn’t have a prior record and volunteered in his community, was sentenced to probation for two years. The 38-year-old must also perform 200 hours of community service. If he complies with the probation terms of checking in with his probation officer once a week for two years and doesn’t have any other run-ins with the law, the charges against him will be dismissed.

The fraudster’s defense attorney argued that his client knew what he did was wrong and the act was out of character. (If that is true, then why did he commit $15,895 in workers’ compensation fraud? The best explanation is that this unscrupulous character lacked character.)

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 in the 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.

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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.