James T. Lemaster also was placed on community control for five years.
"Ohio has proudly demonstrated once again it will not tolerate workers' comp fraud," said James Conrad, BWC CEO/administrator. "BWC and its partners vow to continue to seek out and report fraudulent activity to protect Ohio's economy."
Lemaster was injured in January 1986 while working as a mechanic for Uptime Inc. of Columbus, Ohio. He slipped and fell on an icy curb, and hit his back on the curb. BWC allowed the claim and began awarding permanent total disability (PTD) benefits.
However, BWC's special investigations unit (SIU) received an anonymous telephone call in Feb. 2001 stating Lemaster had returned to work for Bailey Water Systems in Piketon, Ohio.
An investigation was initiated on Feb. 16, 2001. Through surveillance, BWC's SIU unit determined Lemaster was working while receiving PTD benefits. A declaration of PTD means that the injured worker is not capable of returning to the former position of employment or of engaging in any sustained remunerative employment. PTD benefits are terminated if an injured worker is physically able to return to work.
The SIU closed the investigation on Jan. 10, 2002, and Lemaster was indicted in a Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Nov. 21, 2002.