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February 10, 1997

L&I seeks $267,000 from Spokane man in fraud case

TUMWATER -- The Department of Labor & Industries is seeking $267,000 from a Spokane man in a workers’ compensation fraud case.

Labor & Industries is seeking the money from Gary M. Materne, 53. A state appeals board recently upheld an original order demanding repayment of $267,000. Materne collected workers’ compensation benefits illegally for 11 years and used two names, according to a department investigation.

An anonymous tip led to an investigation that showed Materne worked while collecting benefits after filing a claim for a workplace accident. He held jobs driving a truck and another repossessing autos during the 11-year period in which he claimed a back injury so severe that it prevented him from working.

The investigation also showed that Materne filed workers’ compensation claims in Oregon and California and collected benefits under the name of Gary Porter.

Labor & Industries initially sought repayment in March 1995. Materne appealed the order to the state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, the agency that considers disputed claims and protests within the workers’ compensation system in Washington.

The department seeks repayment of $178,000 in benefits that Materne collected illegally, plus a 50 percent penalty. That brings the total to $267,000.

Labor & Industries manages the workers’ compensation system in Washington. It provides coverage to 163,000 employers and 1.6 million workers.

Any person who suspects fraud in the system is urged to contact the local Labor & Industries office. The telephone number is listed in the state government section.

For more information: Steve Valandra 360-902-5405 or vala235@lni.wa.gov

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