Comp Insurance Fraud Violator Convicted in Utah

Blake Winward, a 45 year-old Cache County, Utah, resident, was convicted of workers' compensation insurance fraud, a third-degree felony.

Winward was sentenced to up to five years in the Utah State Prison, but the sentence was suspended. He was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $8,000 to the state's Workers' Compensation Fund (WCF).

In September 2000, Winward sustained a wrist injury while working for an automotive and diesel maintenance and repair shop based in Richmond, Utah. WCF accepted liability on this claim and provided medical and compensation benefits to Winward.

WCF investigators were alerted to potential fraud in April 2002 when a Utah State Employment Security report indicated Winward was receiving wages from Bridgerland Applied Technology Center in Logan, Utah, while still receiving total temporary disability from WCF. Following some research and interviews, WCF's Special Investigations Unit determined Winward had fraudulently obtained lost-time benefits to which he was not entitled.

According to the Utah State Insurance Department's fraud division, workers' compensation fraud costs Utah businesses $34.2 million annually. WCF's Special Investigations Unit helped save Utah businesses approximately $5 million in 2002, while total savings has reached $47.1 million since the unit's inception in late 1992.

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