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June 9, 1999

State seeks $59,000 from Eastern Washington man in workers' comp fraud

TUMWATER -- The state has ordered a 75-year-old Eastern Washington resident to pay back almost $59,000 in workers' compensation benefits that he collected illegally.

The Department of Labor & Industries ordered Alton Foster of Keller, Ferry County, to repay benefits he received from June 1996 to March 1999. Foster began receiving a pension in 1984 for a work-related injury that left him permanently disabled.

However, a department investigation showed Foster continued to collect benefits even though he returned to full-time employment in 1996.

He also filed annual statements during this time saying that his injury continued to prevent him from working.

During the time he collected the benefits illegally, Foster worked as a police officer with the Colville Confederated Tribes in Nespelem.

The repayment order includes the $39,000 Foster received in benefits plus a 50 percent penalty that state law allows in such fraud cases.

The department discovered the fraudulent payments by cross-matching its files with documents at the state Department of Employment Security. Records at Employment Security showed a work history for Foster, prompting the investigation.

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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For media information, contact: 
L&I Public Affairs at 360-902-5400 or publicaffairs@lni.wa.gov

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