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Ohio Man Convicted of Felony Workers' Comp Fraud

A Mahoning County, Ohio, man has been sentenced for a felony charge of workers' compensation fraud, according to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

Joseph Lesniewski was sentenced to 5 years' probation and ordered to pay $97,457.28 in restitution and investigative costs.

According to the bureau, an automated detection and intelligence team cross-match with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services alerted the bureau's special investigations unit that Lesniewski was receiving wages while collecting workers' compensation benefits. During the investigation, the special investigations unit revealed that Lesniewski was employed by seven employers between February 2000 and April 2002, according to the bureau.

Lesniewski suffered injuries to his back and hip in July 1998 while working for Penzoil Co. as a sales representative, according to agency. The Bureau of Workers' Compensation awarded Lesniewski temporary total and living maintenance benefits for his injuries.

"Once again, Ohio has shown it will not tolerate those who try to defraud the workers' compensation system," said Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Administrator and CEO James Conrad. "Each day, BWC and its partners work to ensure the integrity of the system and protect the injured workers we serve by seeking out those who refuse to play by the rules."

The bureau's special investigations unit specializes in identifying and investigating workers' compensation fraud. Since its establishment in 1993, the unit has saved the Bureau of Workers' Compensation more than $820 million, according to the agency. In 2004, the department saved the agency approximately $126 million, the highest amount yet recorded.

For every dollar spent on special investigations, the bureau's special investigations unit identifies more than $11 in savings, according to the bureau. The average take in a fraudulent workers' compensation case is $34,000.

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