Tacoma Couple Charged With Theft of $223,000 in Workers' Comp Benefits
Tumwater, WA (WorkersCompensation.com) - A Tacoma couple has been charged with one count of felony theft each for collecting workers' compensation benefits illegally.
Jamie S. Beroth, 63, and her husband Lawrence J. Beroth, 67, own Beroth Drywall. Mrs. Beroth collected $100,664 in benefits from March 2009 through July 2011 on a workplace injury claim for a shoulder injury. Mr. Beroth also received $123,094.02 in time-loss benefit payments from August 2009 to October 2011 for an industrial injury. Both claimed they were unable to work during this period.
The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) stopped benefit payments after an investigation determined that both Mr. and Mrs. Beroth had been working at their drywall company ever since the alleged injuries occurred.
The Beroth's were arraigned on Thursday, November 15th, 2012 in Pierce County Superior Court. They pled not guilty.
"We discovered that Mrs. Beroth continued to work at Beroth Drywall after her injury, actually preparing and submitting her husband's injury paperwork to L&I,” said Greg McPherson, an investigator in L&I's Fraud Prevention and Compliance Program. "We also took videos of Mr. Beroth working at his drywall business during the time he was receiving benefits and claiming he could not. The video shows him submitting bids, purchasing and hauling supplies, preparing for and working the jobs he received."
Each felony count against the couple carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The total amount of restitution the court could order them to repay is $223,758.31, which is the amount of time-loss benefits that they collected illegally.
Whatever the outcome of the criminal case, the Beroths will not continue receiving benefits and will be asked to make restitution.