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May 17, 1999

State seeks $75,000 from man who used fake ID to collect benefits

TUMWATER -- The state has ordered an Eastern Washington resident to pay back $75,000 in workers' compensation benefits that he collected illegally by using phony Social Security and immigration identification.

The Department of Labor & Industries ordered Gumercindo Gutierrez to repay benefit payments he received from April 1994 to January 1998 after a claim for a work-related arm injury while working at a food processing plant in Quincy, Grant County.

The repayment order includes the $50,000 Gutierrez received in benefits plus a 50 percent penalty that state law allows in such fraud cases.

While receiving benefits, Gutierrez worked for at least five different employers, even though he filed documents with Labor & Industries claiming that his injury prevented him from being employed. He used fake names, phony Social Security card numbers and bogus immigration identification during this period.

The phony documentation listed birth dates of 1943, 1946 and 1959. His last known address was in Moses Lake.

A person close to Gutierrez tipped Labor & Industries. The department investigated and ordered Gutierrez to appear for a medical exam to determine the extent of his injury. He failed to show up.

Labor & Industries manages the workers' compensation system in Washington. It provides coverage to about 163,000 employers and almost 1.4 million workers. Any person who suspects fraud in the system is urged to contact the nearest Labor & Industries office. The telephone number can be found in the government listings of the local directory.

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