Ohio Attorney Will Serve Time for Role in Comp Fraud

Ohio's Bureau of Workers' Compensation is celebrating its first successful prosecution of an attorney for workers' compensation fraud and as a former law director, this attorney should have known better.

Otha Jackson, the law director for northeast Ohio city Warrensville Heights, was sentenced to 21 months in a federal prison for helping one of his clients commit workers' compensation fraud.

Otha Jackson was also ordered to pay $309,000 in restitution jointly with his client Renee Jefferson. Jackson helped Jefferson defraud BWC of $309,653.99 in compensation and medical benefits by representing her on her workers' compensation claims.

Jefferson originally was injured when she worked for Zales Corp. and filed a claim in 1989. Her claim was allowed for multiple reasons, including a neck and back sprain, and vision problems.

However, BWC's special investigations unit (SIU) found that Jefferson worked while continuing to collect benefits from BWC. Injured workers who receive workers' comp benefits must terminate those benefits when returning to work.

Jackson handled Jefferson's claim from 1989 to 1994. He attended workers' compensation hearings and filed paperwork on her behalf, enabling her to continue receiving workers' compensation benefits. During this time, Jefferson also worked for Jackson. She served as an office manager for Jackson & Jackson from 1989 to 1992, and then held the same position when Otha Jackson formed his own practice, working there until 1994.

"The state of Ohio will not tolerate those who try to defraud the workers' comp system," said James Conrad, BWC CEO/administrator. "As this case proves, not only will BWC and its business partners prosecute those that steal, we will also aggressively go after attorneys like Otha Jackson who are familiar with the system and believe they can profit by helping their clients obtain fraudulent benefits."

Jackson was indicted on Oct. 28, 1999. He was found guilty in a North District Federal Court House on Oct 11, 2002, on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy.

In fiscal year 2002, BWC's SIU uncovered $98.8 million in savings from fraudulent activity. It referred 312 subjects for criminal prosecution. The average take in a fraudulent workers' compensation case is $35,000.

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