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Kettle Falls woman sentenced for stealing workers' compensation benefits

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February 1, 2013

Tumwater – An L&I investigation led to a four-and- a-half month jail sentence for a Kettle Falls woman who admitted to stealing more than $30,000 in workers’ compensation benefits, the Department of Labor & Industries announced today.

Heather L. Payne, 22, was sentenced in Thurston County Superior Court Thursday. Payne used forged signatures to receive $30,945 in workers’ compensation benefits. As part of the sentencing she agreed to reimburse L&I for the stolen funds.

Until his death in 2001, Payne’s father received an L&I pension due to a workplace injury that left him permanently disabled. Because she was a minor at the time, Payne was awarded survivor benefits.

When she turned 18, Payne was entitled to continued support as long as she remained a full-time student. L&I requires the recipients of these benefits to regularly submit paperwork verifying they are still in school.

In October 2010, L&I staff noticed inconsistencies in the forms Payne submitted. An investigation revealed that she had dropped out of school in early 2010. In an interview, she admitted to submitting a forged signature in order to continue receiving the pension benefits.

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Broadcast Version:

A Kettle Falls woman was sentenced to a four-and-a-half month jail term in Thurston County Superior Court yesterday after an L&I investigation discovered she stole $30,000 in workers’ compensation benefits. As part of the sentencing Heather Payne agreed to reimburse L&I for the stolen funds. Payne’s father received a pension until his death in 2001. She was entitled to receive survivor benefits as long as she remained a full-time student. L&I’s investigation found that she had dropped out of school and submitted forged signatures to continue receiving benefits.

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