Missouri Department Of Labor And Industrial Relations' Fraud And Noncompliance Unit Wins Statewide Honor
Jefferson City, MO (CompNewsNetwork) - Each year, the Missouri State Investigators Association recognizes the accomplishments of an investigator or investigative unit that has made an exceptional contribution to the field of investigations and the communities they serve. This year, both awards were received by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' Fraud and Noncompliance Unit (FNU). The FNU is housed within the Department's Division of Workers' Compensation.
"I applaud Investigator Vernon and the department's Fraud and Noncompliance Unit for their successful efforts to root out workers' compensation fraud,” Gov. Blunt said. "When I became governor, we immediately enacted workers' compensation reform to ensure it was available to Missourians who needed it. Those reforms would be all for nothing without vigorous efforts to identify and punish fraud. I am pleased that the unit is continuing what we began in 2005.”
Investigator of the Year
Investigator II Ronald Vernon has been employed with the FNU for two years. During that short time he has proven himself to be an invaluable team member. Vernon conducts statewide criminal investigations into allegations of workers' compensation fraud and noncompliance. In 2007, Vernon was assigned 138 investigations and referred 54 to the Office of the Attorney General for possible prosecution. As a result of his referrals, more than $67,000 is being recovered and returned to the Workers' Compensation Fund.
Investigative Unit of the Year
The Department's FNU conducts criminal investigations into workers' compensation fraud and noncompliance committed throughout Missouri. According to the most recent report from the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, the FNU referred more cases for prosecution than any other workers' compensation bureau in the United States under Gov. Blunt's leadership.
In 2007, the Unit received 1,044 criminal allegations, and of those investigated cases, 198 were referred to the Office of the Attorney General for prosecution. This number is up by 35 in comparison to cases referred in 2006. Of those cases referred, 19 were successful prosecutions, 66 were deferred prosecution agreements, and $304,086.03 was received in statutory penalties.
When Gov. Blunt took office, he asked state agencies to become more efficient and improve collaborative efforts to better serve Missouri taxpayers, and the FNU has delivered. Not only has this unit proven their effectiveness as a team, but they also have proven their value in working with other agencies and organizations. During 2007, the FNU continued to work with other agencies in criminal investigations. Information was shared with federal prosecutors and agencies, the U.S. Postal Inspector, and state agencies such as the Missouri Department of Insurance and the Missouri Department of Labor's Division of Employment Security. Referrals also were made to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The unit willingly accepted information from other agencies when working investigations that originated from crimes and violations alleged in other areas.
For more information about the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, please visit the Internet site http://www.dolir.mo.gov/index.asp.