Three workers who pleaded guilty to scamming Washington state’s workers’ compensation systems must serve jail time and pay thousands of dollars in restitution for their crimes.
In three unrelated cases, Donna Childers-Adams, Deana Cook and Rodimiro Pacheco each pleaded guilty to felony theft for stealing workers' compensation benefits from the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries.
Childers-Adams, Cook and Pacheco each received wage-replacement payments and other benefits after officially declaring that they could not work because their on-the-job injuries were so severe. However, state investigators discovered that they received benefits while they were working.
“This system is set up to help those who truly need it. When people lie about their ability to work so they can receive benefits, they're stealing from all of us," said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of the department’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards unit. “L&I aggressively investigates reports of fraud, and has a variety of tools to catch violators, as these three cases prove.”
Childers-Adams, 50, of Rupert, Idaho, was living under a different name as part of her scheme to collect workers' comp benefits while employed as a customer service representative in Heyburn, Idaho, from 2009 to 2012, according to charges filed by the Washington State Attorney General's Office. She had been receiving benefits for years since suffering an on-the-job injury at a construction site in 1995 while employed by a Seattle company.
Childers-Adams was in custody at her May 2 sentencing in Thurston County Superior Court. She had been behind bars since January, when she was arrested in Idaho on a warrant for failing to appear at her arraignment last summer. She returned to Washington after Gov. Jay Inslee signed a warrant for her extradition.
Childers-Adams, who pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, was sentenced to four months in jail, with credit for 94 days served. She was ordered to pay restitution of more than $16,000, plus court costs.
The state learned about Childers-Adams’ employment during a civil proceeding on her initial injury claim. Knowing that she lived in Idaho, the assistant attorney general on the case asked investigators to check Idaho state employment records, which revealed that she was earning wages.
Cook, 40, of Tacoma, Wash., worked as a human resources manager at a Pierce County landscaping firm in 2009 while collecting workers' comp benefits for a back injury, according to charges filed by the state Attorney General's Office. Just days before leaving the company, she claimed to have injured her thumb on the job. In 2010 and 2011, she worked as human resources director at a Tumwater firm – while receiving wage-replacement payments stemming from the Pierce County job injury.
Cook pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to two counts of second-degree theft. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail, and allowed to serve the time by electronic home monitoring. She already had paid restitution of nearly $38,000, plus court fees and fines.
Pacheco, 38, of East Wenatchee, Wash., had been receiving workers' comp benefits since 2001, when state authorities received an anonymous tip that he was employed. Investigators found him working at a Wenatchee orchard in 2011, but he fled the area, according to charges filed by the Douglas County prosecuting attorney. In January 2014, state investigators found Pacheco again, this time working in an Ephrata restaurant. They contacted Ephrata police, who arrested him.
Pacheco pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, and was sentenced in Douglas County Superior Court to three months in jail and ordered to repay more than $39,000 in restitution.