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Chehalis halfway house operator charged with defrauding state of $90,000 in workers' comp payments

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September 27, 2013

Tumwater – The operator of several controversial halfway houses in Lewis County now faces felony charges alleging she illegally received more than $90,000 in workers' compensation benefits.

Judy Darlene Chafin, 61, was charged Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court with one count of first-degree theft and 30 counts of forgery. The Chehalis woman received notice of the charges while in court on an unrelated drug distribution case and was allowed to remain free while the new charges are pending, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor's office.

She is scheduled to enter a plea to the theft and forgery charges on Oct. 3.

The charges resulted from a Department of Labor & Industries investigation into Chafin's collecting more than $90,000 in state workers' compensation benefits from the fall of 2006 to August 2013. Chafin began receiving wage-replacement payments after suffering an on-the-job injury in September 2006 while working as a caregiver at Tiffin House, a long-term care home in Centralia that she did not own.

According to charging papers, Chafin submitted dozens of workers' compensation claims stating that she could not work due to the injury. In reality, Lewis County prosecutors allege, Chafin had been operating The House of the Rising Son and other homes in the Chehalis and Centralia areas for released prisoners and homeless people since the latter half of 2006.

Charging papers contend she provided medical care to residents, received payments from Department of Corrections to house released offenders, and represented herself as the homes' operator when dealing with government officials.

Last year, the city of Chehalis and Lewis County began filing zoning and health-code complaints against the facilities, and none is believed to be still operating.

The first-degree theft charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, plus fines and court costs. The charge also includes three "aggravating" circumstances contending it's a crime of sophistication, a major economic offense, and abuse of a position of trust. These factors could result in more prison time than under standard sentencing guidelines.

Each forgery charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, plus fines and court costs.

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For media information: Debby Abe, debby.abe@lni.wa.gov, 360-902-6043

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Broadcast version:
The operator of several controversial halfway houses in Lewis County now faces felony charges alleging she defrauded the state of more than $90,000 in workers' compensation benefits. Judy Darlene Chafin was charged Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court with one count of first-degree theft and 30 counts of forgery. The charges resulted from a Department of Labor & Industries' investigation.

Chafin received workers' comp benefits from the fall of 2006 to August 2013. Lewis County prosecutors accuse Chafin of claiming she was unable to work because of on-the-job injuries, yet during that time she operated The House of the Rising Son and other halfway houses in the Chehalis area.

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