US District Judge Richard Voorhees sentenced a former United States Postal Service supervisor to sixteen months in prison for submitting false information on his workers’ compensation benefits application. Mr. Catone was convicted in March 2012, by a federal jury for lying on a federal document that he submitted in 2008.
Evidence presented at trial showed that while employed with the United States Postal Service in Boone, NC, Mr. Catone developed a stress related condition related to excess driving, which aggravated his sleep apnea. According to court records, as a condition of receiving his workers’ compensation benefits, Mr. Catone was required to report any employment, self- employment, volunteer work, or income he earned. At trail the government submitted evidence showing that while Mr. Catone denied being employed or receiving money from employment while he received workers’ compensation benefits, he in fact was being paid as a custodian. Witnesses testified that they saw Mr. Catone vacuuming, picking up trash and do other cleaning services. Judge Voorhees sentenced Mr. Catone to 16 months in prison for his dishonesty, and ordered him to pay $106,411.83 as restitution.
Unfortunately, there are people looking to scam any system, and workers’ compensation is no exception. Although this is a federal workers’ compensation case, it is a crime in North Carolina for an employee to fraudulently collect workers’ compensation benefits. It is also illegal for an employer to fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance, or to collect workers’ compensation premiums from employees (with some exceptions). Workers’ compensation fraud in North Carolina is investigated by the Fraud Investigation Section of the North Carolina Industrial Commission.