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August 9, 2000

Eastern Washington man sentenced for defrauding state

TUMWATER - A 41-year-old Eastern Washington man plead guilty to a class B felony charge for illegally collecting workers' compensation benefits for almost two years.

A Stevens County Superior Court judge ordered William Obert Conklin of Addy, Stevens county, to 10 months in jail, $600 in penalties and court fees, and $57,511 in restitution to the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

L&I paid $57,511 in workers' compensation time-loss benefits to Conklin from October 1997 to August 1999. An investigation by the department showed Conklin had worked as a dairy milker in Addy during that time.

Conklin filed statements with L&I saying he was disabled and could not work. He was receiving benefits for an accepted claim following an accident while working at the Tacoma Steam plant as a laborer.

The department ordered Conklin to pay an additional 50 percent penalty allowed by state law, bringing the total owed to the state to $86,267.

Labor & Industries manages the state's workers' compensation system. It provides coverage for about 163,000 employers and 1.9 million workers.

Anyone who suspects fraudulent activity may report it anonymously to L&I by calling 360-902-5153 or online at fraud.lni.wa.gov.

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