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Having His Cake and Eating It Too: Former Restaurant Manager Charged with Workers' Comp Fraud

Jan. 4, 2018
A Seattle restaurant manager who illegally received more than $91,000 in workers' compensation benefits over a period of nearly three years is facing a felony theft charge.

William T. Crawley, 48, was scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 4 on one count of first-degree theft in King County Superior Court. The Seattle man is accused of wrongfully receiving more than $82,000 in wage replacement payments and nearly $9,400 in vocational rehabilitation benefits from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

The Washington Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on an L&I investigation.

“We want injured workers to heal and get back to work,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards, “but they must be absolutely honest with us, their doctors and the other professionals who are helping them recover.

“We actively search for workers’ comp cheaters. When we find them, we hold them accountable.”

Caught Through State Records Check

Crawley was working as a bar manager when he slipped while moving beer into a restaurant cooler, injuring his ankle in 2007. L&I provided him with a variety of workers’ compensation benefits, including partial replacement of his wages and training to become a bookkeeper.

While running a routine cross-match of L&I and Employment Security Department data in 2016, L&I investigators discovered Crawley had returned to work.

Employer interviews and records revealed that he worked nearly full time as a manager or assistant manager at four Seattle restaurants from June 2013 to March 2016. L&I investigators found he earned more than $104,000 over that period.

Doctor Wasn’t Told About Jobs

At the same time, charging papers said, he misled his doctor into thinking that he wasn’t working. Based on the misrepresentation, the doctor approved Crawley to receive wage replacement payments and vocational rehabilitation benefits while he was working at the restaurants, charging papers said.

The wage replacement checks included warnings that recipients must not cash them if they returned to work, and that violators who lie or misrepresent the facts would be subject to civil and criminal penalties. During L&I’s investigation, Crawley told the investigator he understood the warnings.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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