Pensacola Resident Sentenced For Workers' Comp Fraud and Perjury

Ellen Navani Stoneking of Pensacola, Fla. was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Linda Nobles to 11 months and 29 days in jail, to be followed by one year and one day home confinement, and eight years probation for workers' compensation fraud and perjury.

Stoneking was also ordered to reimburse the state of Florida for the costs of investigation and costs of prosecution. The amount of restitution she must pay will be determined at a subsequent date.

Stoneking was employed by the city of Key West when she had carpal tunnel surgery. She moved to Pennsylvania and filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits against the city of Key West and the Florida League of Cities Municipal Insurance Trust in 1995. After spending four years in Pennsylvania, she moved to Pensacola in 1999. Over the years, Stoneking collected over $169,000 in benefits pursuant to her phony claims and caused the Florida League of Cities to spend an additional $195,000 on her behalf or on account of her phony claims.

Stoneking claimed that she could not use her hands because she had residual carpal tunnel syndrome and was permanently and totally disabled. She told doctors and also testified under oath in her disability case that she could not drive, grasp objects, lift more than five pounds, do daily chores or any kind of work, and that she stayed home all day because of her disability.

The Special Investigative Unit of the Florida League of Cities became suspicious and hired investigators in both Pennsylvania and Florida, who obtained videotapes of Stoneking driving, loading and unloading furniture in a trailer as part of her move back to Pensacola, and doing various outside activities such as digging and gardening that required grasping, lifting and strenuous use of her hands. The videotapes were turned over to the Florida Department of Insurance Division of Fraud, which discovered that Stoneking was also enrolled as a full-time student in the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry and was active in various school activities, including playing drums for one of the student music teams.

At the time of her conviction, she stood to receive an estimated $1 million in future workers' compensation benefits over her lifetime.

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