The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC) announced a new arrangement with the East Baton Rouge District Attorney at the August Workers' Compensation Advisory Council meeting. Fraud Section Manager Darrick Lee, longtime OWC attorney, is spearheading the effort, which is designed to increase criminal prosecution of workers' comp fraud cases across the state.
Comp Blog: Can you explain the nature of the new arrangement you have with the EBR District Attorney to prosecute workers' comp fraud cases?
Lee: My official position is Special Assistant District Attorney. The purpose of this arrangement is that it allows the agency, through me, to criminally prosecute those employers and employees that commit workers' compensation fraud. We chose the Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court since the agency is domiciled in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Comp Blog: What problems was this arrangement designed to solve?
Lee, speaking at Comp Blog's Comp in Focus luncheon
Lee: We are able to focus all of our attention on prosecuting Workers' Compensation Fraud by having an in house prosecutor as opposed to referring the case out for prosecution. We are now able to better control the process.
Comp Blog: The Fraud Section recently hired a new attorney as well, correct? Along with this new arrangement, should we expect much higher prosecution numbers for comp fraud cases?
Lee: We've already seen drastic improvement. At one time I was the only attorney in this unit. Now we've brought on since September or October of 2018 two new attorneys.
As far as the numbers go, for fiscal year 2017-2018, we had 127 Mandatory Insurance Compliance System (MICS) investigations. For fiscal year 2018-2019, we had 725 MICS investigations. That's on the civil side. On the criminal side, the change isn't drastic yet, but we expect that to spike now that we have this partnership, which was made official in June.
Also, as far as cases referred for prosecution, we had 79 for fiscal year 2017-2018. For 2018-2019, we had 270. And for cases resolved, for fiscal year 2017-2018 we had 70 cases resolve and for fiscal year 2018-2019 we had 263 cases resolve.
Comp Blog: Was this new arrangement with the EBR DA inspired by Texas Mutual's deal with the Travis County DA at all?
Lee: The arrangement was inspired by the motivation to more efficiently prosecute workers' compensation fraud.
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