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4 Two Elmira men face workers’ comp fraud charges

January 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Blog

Two Elmira men have been charged in separate workers’ compensation fraud cases.

New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott announced charges against James Hooks Jr. and John L. VanRensselaer.

Hooks, 56, allegedly scammed the workers’ compensation system of $24,584.60, according to Scott’s office. Hooks is charged with third-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and a workers’ compensation crime of fraudulent practices, all felonies.

Investigations said Hooks, who sustained injuries while working at a grocery store in 1994, repeatedly told an insurance benefits company he was not employed in any capacity. While collecting benefits, he was working at Ramsey’s Place on East Fifth Street since at least 2013, according to Scott’s office.

VanRensselaer, 53, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, and two counts of first-degree falsifying business records and a workers’ compensation crime of fraudulent practices, all felonies.

VanRensselaer was receiving workers’ compensation based on an injury sustained in 1983. He shut down his auto mechanic garage in 2009, leaving him unemployed, according to Scott’s office.

He allegedly collected more than $1,000 in workers’ compensation benefits he was not eligible for while working as a self-employed auto mechanic from September 2013 to February 2014.

Hooks and VanRensselaer were arraigned in front of Elmira City Court Judge Ottavio Campanella and are due back in court Feb. 19.

“Workers’ compensation coverage is meant to protect employees, but these two individuals allegedly used it to fraudulently enrich themselves,” Scott said in a statement. “I will continue to use the resources of my office to pursue those who abuse the workers’ compensation system at the expense of hard-working New Yorkers.”

The Elmira Police Department assisted in the cases, as did the New York State Department of Labor, the PMA Companies and the Special Funds Conservation Committee.

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