A Cuyahoga Falls man is on probation for three years and still has to make good on nearly $70,000 he picked up in workers' comp benefits while still working as a truck driver.
James Lee not only got a suspended sentence with probation but, in addition to paying the State back for benefits illegally received, is forbidden from driving tractor-trailers anymore.
Lee pleaded guilty to theft by deception, according to a news release from the state agency.
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(Bureau of Workers' Compensation) A Cuyahoga Falls (Summit County) man was sentenced for continuing to work as a truck driver while receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a prior workplace injury. James Lee was sentenced in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas and must repay close to $70,000 he improperly collected from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).
“Mr. Lee engaged in the same type of work as before becoming injured while receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “He pocketed a large sum of money that wasn’t rightfully his, and thanks to our investigators and our Fraud Hotline, he’s returning that money, so BWC can provide compensation and medical care to truly injured workers.”
Temporary total disability benefits are typically the first form of compensation awarded during injured workers’ recoveries from work-related injuries. Injured workers cannot work while receiving temporary total disability payments.
The BWC Fraud Hotline received an allegation that Lee worked since the time of his injury and drove a truck for three different businesses. Investigators found that Lee continued to be employed as a truck driver between 2006 and 2010 while receiving temporary total disability benefits.
Lee pleaded guilty to theft by deception, a fifth-degree felony, on March 11 and was sentenced the same day. He received 12 months in jail, suspended for three years of community control. Under the terms of Lee’s probation, he must pay restitution to BWC in the amount of $69,604.57, plus court costs. He was also ordered not to drive tractor-trailers.