Woman Sentenced for Illegally Collecting Dead Husband's Comp Benefits

A Bethel, Ohio woman pled guilty to one count of felonious workers' compensation fraud in a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Judy Riddle was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $5,401 and was sentenced to a two-year period of community control for continuing to collect workers' compensation benefits intended for her deceased husband.

"Workers' comp fraud is damaging to Ohio's employers and injured workers," said James Conrad, CEO/administrator, Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). "To all those who try to steal, let this case be an example: BWC and its business partners will find and punish you if you defraud the workers' comp system."

Joseph Riddle was injured on July 9, 1992. While lifting a heavy mold, he sustained a sprained lumbosacral and disc displacement. BWC allowed the claim and awarded Riddle permanent total disability (PTD) benefits.

However, BWC's special investigations unit (SIU) launched an investigation on July 9, 2002, when a BWC claims service specialist (CSS) began receiving returned BWC mail with deceased written on it. The CSS then referred the case to the SIU for further investigation, because PTD benefits are terminated when an injured worker dies.

The investigation revealed Riddle died on Feb. 26, 2002. Between Feb. 26 and June 20, 2002, BWC made nine deposits into the Riddle's joint checking account; no other deposits were made into this account. During that time, Riddle made five withdrawals totaling $5,147.21, including one transaction BWC caught on tape.

Riddle was interviewed and admitted to making two withdrawals. She was indicted on Jan. 23, 2003.

In fiscal year 2002, BWC's SIU uncovered $98.8 million in savings from fraudulent activity. It referred 312 subjects for criminal prosecution.

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