Spokane Restaurateur Videotaped in Workers' Comp Scam Must Repay State $125k


Spokane, WA (WorkersCompensation.com) - A Spokane Valley woman who worked at her restaurant while collecting disability benefits must repay the state $125,000.

In addition, Wanitta Racicot, 70, must serve 60 days in confinement. She's allowed to serve the time at home with electronic monitoring, according to the Washington Attorney General's Office. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins ordered the sentence at a recent hearing, when Racicot pleaded guilty as charged to first-degree, felony theft.

"Workers' comp fraud is not a victimless crime," said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards at the Department of Labor & Industries. "Cheating the workers' comp system is stealing from both employers who pay premiums and legitimately injured workers who depend on it."

Racicot collected workers' compensation benefits for more than eight years. She originally filed a claim in 2001, stating she injured both of her arms while working at a restaurant. Over the years, she regularly signed official documents affirming she was not employed and unable to work due to her injury. As a result, she received wage-replacement payments from L&I.

In August 2011, L&I launched an investigation after Racicot's case raised red flags to a department employee who was examining whether she should be referred for a pension.

During the investigation, Racicot told an investigator that her hands were so damaged that she couldn't button shirts or put on earrings. The same month, an investigator videotaped Racicot carrying groceries, busing dishes, scrubbing the bar counter and floor and doing other tasks at the Broadway Bar and Grill, the Spokane business she co-owned at the time.

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