Construction Worker Faces Multiple Felonies In WC Fraud

New York, NY (CompNewsNetwork) - A North Tonawanda man injured 15 years ago while working for a Niagara Falls landscaping firm has been charged with four felonies for lying about his work status.

Robert Kennerknecht, 51, of Witmer Road in North Tonawanda was hurt in 1994 when a pole fell on his back while raising a fence for Alcliff Landscaping and Nursery of Niagara Falls. 

NYSIF fraud investigators from the Division of Confidential Investigations report that Kennerknecht returned signed statements to NYSIF attesting that he had not returned to any form of work. The defendant also applied for a lump-sum settlement of his claim.  An investigation revealed that he was employed working beyond the limits of his alleged disability while receiving wage replacement benefits of $11,530 to which he was not entitled. 

The investigation revealed that in October 2008, and January 2009, Kennerknecht was working for Anthony Barone General Contracting of Niagara Falls as a carpenter/construction worker and was observed using a circular saw and pneumatic nail gun to secure roofing shingles on the second story roof of a newly-built home in North Tonawanda.

Last month, the Workers' Compensation Board ordered Kennerknecht to forfeit all future wage replacement benefits as the result of the fraud, an amount totaling just under $250,000. In all, potential future savings on this case could total approximately $400,000.

Criminal action followed as Kennerknecht was arrested by New York State Police on charges of offering a false instrument for filing, insurance fraud, grand larceny and workers' compensation fraud, all felonies.  

"This case is an example of how costly workers' compensation fraud is to New York's economy and the complexity of fraud investigations," said NYSIF Executive Director James J. Wrynn.  "Our people did a good job."                           

Following his arrest, Kennerknecht was issued an appearance ticket and will return to Buffalo City Court on June 22 for arraignment.

Criminal complaints and indictments are accusations only.  A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. 

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