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May 21, 2003

Arlington man ordered to repay state $27,814

TUMWATER — The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has ordered an Arlington man to repay $27,814 after an investigation showed he collected workers' compensation benefits illegally.

The state agency ordered Stewart Hutchens, 28, to repay $18,542.70 in time-loss and vocational benefits he collected fraudulently between November 2001 and May 2002. State law allows an additional 50 percent penalty, bringing the repayment order to $27,814.05.

Time-loss benefits partially compensate injured workers for wages lost while they're unable to work due to an injury. Hutchens was receiving time-loss benefits for an on-the-job injury he sustained in November 2000 while working for a refrigeration and heating company in Burlington.
The department opened its investigation after a cross match against Employment Security Department data showed earnings reported from two separate employers during the time period Hutchens was receiving time-loss and vocational benefits from L&I. The investigation showed Hutchens had been working as a pizza delivery driver and car salesman during a time period he reported to L&I that he was incapable of returning to work because of his on-the-job injury.

L&I manages the state's workers' compensation system. It provides coverage for more than 163,000 employers and about 1.9 million workers. L&I is committed to preventing and fighting fraud. Anyone who suspects fraudulent activity may report it anonymously online at fraud.lni.wa.gov or by calling 1-888-811-5974.

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The Department of Labor & Industries advises injured workers, employers and health-care providers to think twice before trying to defraud the agency.

In the past two years, L&I has cracked down on employers who don’t pay workers’ compensation premiums, medical providers who over-charge the agency and workers who collect benefits for which they’re not entitled.

L&I recently ordered Stewart Hutchens of Arlington to repay nearly $28,000 in penalties and time-loss benefits he collected while working at other jobs. The agency caught Hutchens by cross checking records with the Employment Security Department.

If you suspect someone is defrauding L&I, you can report it anonymously online at fraud.lni.wa.gov or by calling 1-888-811-5974.



For more information: Robert T. Nelson, L&I public affairs, at 360-902-6043 or nelq235@lni.wa.gov.

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