Bored injured worker got five jobs while collecting $41K in workers' comp
Must repay injured workers' fund after guilty plea
SEATTLE — A King County man who claimed his on-the-job injury was so bad he couldn't work, but then took several jobs while he was receiving workers' compensation, has been sentenced to repay the state more than $41,000.
Gary Leonard Miller, 53, of Kent, pleaded guilty to third-degree theft, a gross misdemeanor, for stealing cash benefits from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
An L&I investigation found Miller held a series of five jobs while signing official forms declaring he wasn't working because of a workplace injury.
King County Superior Court Judge David Steiner ordered Miller to repay L&I $41,139, the amount of wage replacement payments he stole between May 2018 and September 2019. The money will be returned to the workers' compensation insurance fund.
Miller was also sentenced to serve 240 hours of community service and two years on probation.
"We expect workers to tell the truth when they're collecting cash benefits meant for those who are truly too injured to work," said Celeste Monahan, acting assistant director of L&I's Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. "This money should have gone toward helping injured workers heal and get back to work the right way.
"Instead it lined the pockets of someone who was healthy enough to have several other jobs. That's unacceptable."
The Washington State Attorney General's Office prosecuted the case based on L&I's 2019 investigation.
L&I finds discrepancies, launches investigation
Miller suffered significant chest injuries in a vehicle accident in Auburn when he was working as a delivery driver in April 2018.
Over the next year and a half, Miller's doctor determined he couldn't work at all for some of that time and could only do light work at other times. The determination allowed Miller to receive wage replacement payments from L&I during most of that period.
Miller repeatedly signed L&I forms to verify he was not working because of his injury, another key requirement to receive the payments.
L&I launched an investigation after a routine comparison of L&I records to those of another state agency indicated Miller was in fact working.
"Tired of sitting around"
According to charging papers, the investigation found that Miller earned nearly $31,000 from five employers at the same time he was collecting more than $41,000 in L&I payments. Most of the jobs included lifting heavy boxes in warehouses or delivering packages.
In June 2019, Miller admitted to an L&I investigator that he lied when signing forms verifying that he hadn't been working. When asked why he lied, charging papers said Miller told the investigator "... he was tired of sitting around doing nothing and his finances were bad."
The L&I investigator showed Miller's doctor his patient's confession and employment records. The physician said Miller never told him he was working and misrepresented his ability to work. If he had known Miller's actual abilities, the doctor said he would have cleared him to work in May 2018, charging papers said.
L&I administers the state workers' compensation insurance system, which helps injured workers heal and return to work. If you suspect someone is cheating the workers' comp system, contact L&I's Fraud division (Lni.wa.gov/Fraud) or call 1-888-811-5974.
Debby Abe, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043