Dust Bunnies

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Business owners in the state of Ohio are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Today’s fraud case involves the owner of a Northwest Ohio cleaning business who let her company’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage lapse. Instead of renewing the policy, she dealt with the issue by hiding behind a former employee to commit workers’ compensation fraud. (She left her former employee with quite a mess to clean up.)

Employers commonly have to provide a certificate of coverage when initiating contracts with other business or government organizations. This requirement protects the business owner and the employee in the event of an on-the-job injury. (Business owners prevent huge financial losses in the event an employee sues and injured workers get the medical care they deserve.)

An investigation was opened by the BWC after the Putnam County Sherriff’s Office received a complaint from a woman who formerly worked for the business owner’s cleaning company. The former employee claimed that after filing her taxes, the state notified her that she would not be receiving a tax refund due to a debt owed on her cleaning business. (Imagine her surprise when she discovered she owned a business.)

The BWC jumped on the case quickly after the former employee revealed that she had never owned a cleaning business. The organization quickly confirmed that she was telling the truth. It turns out that the business owner had opened a separate BWC policy under the former employee’s name following the lapse of her businesses’ workers’ compensation policy. (That’s worse than finding a colony of dust bunnies under your bed.)

The 63-year-old cleaning business owner’s dark crime was exposed when confronted by investigators. (Just as many people tend to ignore the need to vacuum, dust and tidy up, this cleaning lady tried to sweep her crime under the rug.) She pleaded guilty to two third-degree felony counts of tampering with records. When sentenced, she could get up to a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for her dirty deed.

There are obviously challenges associated with running a business, especially one that requires a lot of physical labor. The costs for a workers’ compensation insurance policy can be difficult to pay in situations like this one where the Ohio business owner may have had difficulty in establishing consistent clients. (No matter the reason why the cleaning company owner was trying to avoid her responsibilities as an employer, let’s hope she has learned that cutting corners to save money when operating a business usually ends up costing more in the end.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Cleaning company owner soils record in workers’ comp schemepublished by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

A northwest Ohio woman with lapsed workers’ compensation coverage pleaded guilty last month to felony charges of tampering with records after investigators found she obtained new coverage under her employees’ names to avoid paying her debt to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

Donna Roethlisberger, owner of Complete Cleaning of Northwest Ohio, pleaded guilty to two third-degree felony counts of tampering on July 20 in the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas. Third-degree felonies carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

 

 

 

 

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.