Cheating in a casino is never a good idea, even if you’re not actually gambling. According to a press release published by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), a Spokane card dealer was caught ripping off a different kind of money pot: state disability benefits.
The man first submitted a claim in 2013 that alleged he had suffered a back injury while dealing cards at a casino where he was employed. (Back Jack?) Two doctors and a nurse practitioner validated this claim and certified that he be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which the state granted him. But later it was discovered that he had secretly dealt cards at additional casinos for nearly the entire period of time he was receiving state benefits hinged on his “inability” to work, and he submitted to the L&I further documentation that falsely claimed he remained unemployed and unable to work. (Maybe because the first casino closed, he thought no one would find out?)
Ultimately, the L&I checked their records against other state agencies and discovered the deception. Strangely, it is purported that the man told investigators that he lied about his employment status because otherwise the state would have denied him disability benefits. (Um, yes. The whole point of public disability benefits is to benefit those who are truly disabled.)
He pleaded guilty to two theft charges—one felony count in the second degree and one misdemeanor count in the third degree—and was ordered to return $27,183 that he fraudulently collected from the state. Although the presiding judge swapped out his 10-day prison sentence for 80 hours of community service, any failure to comply with his sentencing terms or further run-ins with the law over the next year could result in a 364-day prison sentence.
The sole reason for disability benefits is to cushion the financial blow from necessary time away from one’s job. As he stated, this wild card was fully aware that he was not eligible to collect workers’ compensation while he was working, and he made a risky bet when he tried to pull a fast one on the state of Washington.