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New Lebanon Couple Guilty of Wokers’ Compensation Fraud

March 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Blog


A New Lebanon couple pleaded guilty to fraud and were ordered to repay $108,000 to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

An investigation by the BWC, following a tip, revealed Mike and Terri Watkins schemed to steal workers’ compensation benefits.

“The Watkins’ took deliberate steps that were clearly designed to maximize the dollars they could receive fraudulently from BWC for his workplace injury,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer, in a release. “That’s unfortunate and not representative of the many who truly need assistance as they recover.”

The agency’s Special Investigations Department received an allegation that Mike Watkins may have returned to work for his business, Mike Watkins Sterling Homes, while still collecting temporary total disability benefits. He was supposed to be off work recovering from a workplace injury.

The investigation found that Mike Watkins did work for his business for two years while receiving compensation in violation of the program’s rules regarding returning to work, according to a media release.

The investigation also revealed false payroll checks written by his wife, Terri Watkins, who owned TRW Supreme Homes.

Mike Watkins reported to the BWC that he was employed with TRW Supreme Homes, and his wife was writing payroll checks to him for submitting to BWC to qualify for living maintenance wage loss benefits.

“This benefit is available to an injured worker who has completed a rehabilitation plan but continues to have physical restrictions and experiences a wage loss upon return to work,” according to BWC. “SID discovered the checks were never cashed but just used as ‘proof’ of wages so that Watkins could receive benefits to which he was not entitled.”

In December 2015, Mike Watkins pleaded guilty to one count workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which was suspended for five years of community control.

In June 2015, Terri Watkins pleaded guilty to one count complicity to commit workers’ compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor.

The couple owes a combined $108,000 in restitution to BWC and to cover investigative costs.

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