Coventry firefighter charged with perjury, Workers’ Compensation fraud
COVENTRY — A local volunteer firefighter was charged Thursday with illegally collecting more than $6,000 in Workers’ Compensation benefits after he was seen doing construction work despite having an ankle injury that supposedly rendered him unable to work, authorities say.
The firefighter, Anthony P. Skut, 57, of 145 Beebe Farms Road, was arrested Thursday by inspectors from the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Control Unit in the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office in Rocky Hill, according to a news release
Skut was charged with fraudulent claim or receipt of benefits and perjury. He was released on a written promise to appear in Norwich Superior Court on April 28.
Skut’s arrest was the result of an investigation following a complaint by the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, which provides Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage to Coventry, including its volunteer firefighters.
CIRMA later hired a private investigator, who found that while Skut was collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits, he was working in his construction business, RAS Home Builders.
According to the affidavit supporting Skut’s arrest, events happened this way: Skut reported suffering a significant right ankle sprain last Dec. 22 at the scene of a house fire in Coventry that he was dispatched to help fight.
Skut reported that while going over a stone wall at the scene he stepped on a rock and rolled his ankle, which caused his injury. He was taken to Manchester Memorial Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a right ankle sprain with unspecified ligament injury.
Two days later he was evaluated by a doctor at Corp Care in South Windsor, who said Skut was going to continue using crutches and wearing the air cast he received in the emergency room.
On Jan. 4 Skut was evaluated by an orthopedic doctor at Corp Care, who found there was minimal swelling in Skut’s ankle and he advised him to stay out of work.
Two weeks later he was examined again and reported to the same doctor that he had ongoing pain in his right ankle, with the pain registering a 6 out of 10 and was unable to walk for any length of time without significant pain. He was to stay out of work until an MRI could be performed on his ankle.
The private investigator hired by CIRMA put Skut under surveillance from Jan. 20 through various dates in February and documented that he was working in his construction business, RAS Home Builders, while claiming to be suffering from an ankle injury that kept him out of work.
At a job site in Colchester, the private investigator recorded Skut over several days performing such work as carrying lumber into the residence; working on the home’s pitched roof — and using his reportedly injured right ankle to brace himself — lifting a pre-constructed dormer framing into place with help from others; hammering and sledgehammering and using various saws; and climbing, kneeling, crouching, and bending at the site.
As a result of Skut’s reported ankle injury that kept him from working, he received $6,126 in Workers’ Compensation benefits. CIRMA stopped paying Skut wage replacement benefits on March 4 because he returned to work full time.
On March 7, Skut was deposed under oath regarding his Workers’ Compensation claim and his activities and was found to be untruthful in his answers. He said he did not work as a volunteer firefighter nor in his construction business from the time he was injured on Dec. 22 through Feb. 7. He also testified that from Feb. 8 to March 7, while cleared for light duty, he still did not work in any capacity.
Steven Sartor, an inspector with the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, wrote in the affidavit that Skut knew he could not work while collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits but thought he could make the situation work because his injured ankle felt good in the cast.
He also expected only to be managing the job site as a general contractor while someone else performed the work. However, he helped install the dormers and worked on the roof, even though he knew he was not supposed to be doing so because of his work-related injury.
Skut said he did not mean for this to happen and said he would be willing to pay back the money the town of Coventry/ CIRMA paid him for his Workers’ Compensation claim. Skut said that between his injury and his wife’s recent death, he just made a mistake.
He also admitted that he made the situation worse by lying about his activities during the March 7 Workers’ Compensation deposition. He admitted that he was too scared to tell the truth about working while collecting wage replacement benefits.