Pierce County roofer who faked injury pleads guilty to workers’ comp fraud
OLYMPIA — A Pierce County man who removed and installed roofs while claiming he was too injured to work has pleaded guilty to stealing workers’ compensation benefits.
Patrick Dean Farthing, 64, pleaded guilty recently to third-degree theft, a gross misdemeanor.
The Lakewood man had been running his own roofing business at the same time he was receiving wage replacement payments that are intended for injured workers, a Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation determined in 2020.
Investigators observed Farthing walking on roofs, removing roof tiles, and personally moving construction equipment and heavy materials – the same kinds of tasks he did when working as a roofer before his injury years earlier.
“This is a blatant case of someone working in a physically demanding job, and lying about it to get cash benefits,” said Celeste Monahan, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division.
“I’m thankful to the public for tipping us off to this cheater, and to our L&I team that worked two years investigating this case.”
Repays L&I more than $35,000
Earlier this year, Farthing repaid L&I $35,572, the amount he had wrongfully taken in wage replacement payments from the fall of 2014 to early 2021.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Anne Egeler in Olympia last week accepted Farthing’s guilty plea. She sentenced him to 20 days in jail, but allowed him to serve the time on electronic home monitoring. The penalty was part of a deferred sentence requiring he have no criminal violations for two years or face up to 364 days in jail.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case based on L&I’s investigation.
L&I oversees the state workers’ compensation insurance system, which helps injured workers heal and return to work. Employees who can’t work because of their injury and who meet certain conditions can temporarily receive payments for part of their lost wages.
Tip leads to investigation
Farthing originally injured his shoulder in 2010 while repairing a roof. He qualified for wage replacement payments, and later for a pension, when his medical provider determined the injury prevented him from working as a roofer. In addition, Farthing regularly declared to L&I that he wasn’t working, another requirement to receive the payments.
But in 2018, L&I launched an investigation after receiving a tip that Farthing was again working as a roofer. Investigators discovered he was operating his own roofing company that worked throughout the South Sound.
As part of the investigation, construction compliance inspectors caught Farthing and his work crews roofing houses in Spanaway and Olympia in 2018, according to inspection records.
Farthing sometimes did business as Pat Farthing Roofing or used the alias Adam Lay. They issued him two civil infractions for unregistered contracting, with penalties totaling $5,000; he paid the fines this year.
How to report workers’ comp fraud
If you see or 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