A service technician who claimed he was too injured to work but who got a job driving a tow truck pleaded guilty Feb. 10 for running a workers’ compensation scam.
Kyle Valle, 30, of Algona, Wash., pleaded guilty to felony, second-degree theft in King County Superior Court. Judge Hollis R. Hill sentenced Valle to 20 days in jail, but allowed the jail time to be converted to 160 hours of community service. Hill also ordered Valle to repay the state $12,585, the amount of disability benefits he wrongfully received.
The Washington Attorney General prosecuted the case, based on an investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
“It’s shameful that people try to take advantage of the system that helps legitimately injured workers heal and get back to work,” said Elizabeth Smith, L&I’s assistant director of Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards. “Stealing workers’ comp money raises costs for the businesses and employees who support the system − and it’s just not fair. That’s why L&I is committed to finding workers’ comp scammers, and holding them accountable.”
Records Check Triggered L&I Investigation
Valle was working as a service technician for a waterproofing company when he hit his head on a support joist in Kirkland, Wash., in May 2014. Valle filed a workers' compensation claim, and medical providers verified his head and neck injuries prevented him from working full time.
An L&I check of Employment Security Department records, however, found that he was employed, even though he declared on official forms that he couldn’t work – and wasn’t working – due to his on-the-job injury.
Further investigation determined that Valle had worked as a tow truck driver for a used-car dealership in Seattle from September 2014 through early June 2015.