Student Charged For Fraud In Taking Comp. Benefits

New York, NY (CompNewsNetwork) - A Cortland County woman attending college full time allegedly received more than $31,000 in illegally gained workers' compensation benefits by lying about her status as a student in a case of fraud against the New York State Insurance Fund.

Tara Horton, 27, of Cortland, NY, faces felony charges of perjury and fraudulent practices in violation of the Workers' Compensation Law following her arrest by Syracuse police on December 12.

Investigators said Ms. Horton was receiving benefits for a work-related injury at the time of her arrest. Ms. Horton filed a claim for workers' compensation after she reported a back injury in 2006 while working as a youth developmental aide for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.

According to authorities, Ms. Horton returned to college as a full time student at Tompkins Cortland Community College while continuing to collect benefits, but allegedly denied to a Workers' Compensation Law judge that she was attending school either as a part time or full time student.

Ms. Horton allegedly received $31,554 in illegal benefits while attending school. Investigators estimated potential future savings in her claim to be $313,042 as a result of her arrest.

"Attempting to conceal your status as a student while receiving workers' compensation benefits is a fraud," NYSIF Executive Director David. P. Wehner said.

The arrest was the result of a joint investigation by NYSIF Division of Confidential Investigations, New York State Insurance Department Frauds Bureau, the Office of Workers' Compensation Board Fraud Inspector General, and Syracuse Police.

Criminal complaints and indictments are accusations only. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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