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Dec. 6, 1999

Department orders California man to repay $328,000 in fraud case

TUMWATER -- A 59-year-old California man has been ordered to repay $328,000 in workers' compensation benefits that he collected illegally for almost 19 years.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries ordered Robert Johannsen to repay $219,000 in benefits collected fraudulently from Jan. 1, 1981 through Aug. 4, 1999. The department also added a 50 percent penalty to bring the total to $328,000.

Johannsen, formerly of Olympia, currently is an inmate at Folsom State Prison in California on an unrelated conviction.

An anonymous tip from a person who knew Johannsen resulted in an investigation by Labor & Industries. The department discovered that Johannsen had worked almost continuously since 1981 as a drug abuse counselor in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Johannsen was receiving $1,406 a month at the time Labor & Industries terminated benefits and ordered repayment.

Records show Johannsen suffered a skull fracture and broken bones while working as a carpenter for a construction firm in Olympia in 1970. Soon after the injury, he began collecting benefit payments for time lost from work.

He also filed regular statements since 1970 declaring that his injury continued to prevent him from working.

Labor & Industries manages the state's workers' compensation system. It provides coverage to about 163,000 employers and almost 1.6 million workers.

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