A Tacoma-area man faces a felony theft charge after he was caught working while receiving more than $81,000 in workers’ compensation disability payments.
Bobby R. Johnson, 47, has been charged with first-degree theft after investigators from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries discovered he was working while receiving disability payments. He was scheduled to be arraigned in Pierce County Superior Court on Aug. 19.
The Washington Attorney General’s Office filed the charge based on the investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
“Cheating the workers’ comp system doesn’t pay,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards. “We are committed to finding fraud and holding cheaters accountable. We want to ensure fairness and stability of the system that helps legitimately injured workers heal and return to work.”
Johnson originally injured his lower back and chest when he fell on an icy parking lot at a recreational vehicle company in Poulsbo, and claimed his injuries left him unable to work.
The investigation started when a routine cross-check of L&I and state employment security records showed Johnson was employed at the same time he was receiving wage-replacement payments from L&I.
According to charging papers, Johnson received $81,453 in workers’ comp payments over a two-year period starting in March 2013. To receive the checks, Johnson signed official forms declaring he did not and could not work due to his on-the-job injury. Physicians also confirmed he was unable to work.
Selling “Good Amount” of RVs
The L&I investigation, however, found that Johnson was working as a home caregiver throughout the two-year time span, and as a salesman for stints at two RV companies.
At an RV show in the spring of 2015, an L&I undercover investigator saw Johnson walking and moving freely as he showed trailers to customers, and overheard him say he worked long hours all weekend long, selling a “good amount” of trailers, charging papers said.