(WOIO) - A surveillance operation conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Special Investigations Department landed a Lake County man in a Cuyahoga County courtroom recently to be sentenced for running a business while receiving workers' compensation benefits.
Duane Funtash must repay BWC more than $76,000 for fraudulently receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits after the video that was key to his conviction showed he was running Dar's Catering in Painesville.
"Work of any kind while receiving disability benefits is prohibited, and if an injured worker is able to operate a business, there is a clear question as to whether those benefits are justified," said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer. "If the rules alone aren't enough to deter those who would commit fraud, the prospect of being exposed through an investigation may make them think twice."
SID began surveillance of Funtash after receiving an allegation that his name appeared on a website for Dar's Catering. The website claimed the company was owned and operated by Funtash's wife, Regina, however Funtash's email address was listed as the company contact. Surveillance and undercover operations confirmed that Funtash was operating Dar's Catering while receiving benefits for a prior workplace injury. Funtash was observed working in every aspect of the business, including coordinating events, cooking and event preparation.
Funtash pleaded guilty in August to a felony count of workers' compensation fraud in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. He was later ordered by Judge Nancy Russo to pay restitution of $67,340.15 and investigative costs of $9,470.69. In addition, he was sentenced to two years of community control, monthly reporting probation and random drug/alcohol testing.