The holiday season typically brings about the happiest of feelings and an inspiring amount of generosity in most people. It is commonly known as the ‘Season of Giving,’ and one Ohio man probably ended up giving a little bit more than he intended at the end of last year. Todd Bittner of Hamilton County was found guilty this past December of two counts of worker’s compensation fraud, which will result in $55k moving from Mr. Bittner’s bank account and into the account of the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC).
The $55k will not be the only way Bittner will pay for insurance fraud. On top of the large premiums, he also faces four years of community control and 500 hours of community service. The sentence may seem extreme, but for a man who has continued to operate his construction firm since 2007, despite being approached on numerous occasions by the BWC for lapsed coverage, it appears these charges stem from years of negligence. In September of 2007, the BWC’s Employer Fraud Team (EFT) approached Bittner Construction about the construction firm’s lapsed coverage. Mr. Bittner explained to them that he was responsible for the firm’s worker’s comp duties, and that they would pay the premiums. However, he never paid the premiums, nor did he ever enter a payment plan that the EFT required him to do.
In July of 2013, Bittner was indicted for 12 fifth-degree felony counts of worker’s compensation fraud. He pleaded guilty to two of the 12 counts this past October as part of a plea deal. The other 10 counts were immediately dismissed.
Upon learning that Bittner had been found guilty, BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer stated, “Bittner Construction had lapsed coverage, and this wasn’t the first time. BWC attempted to work with Mr. Bittner, but he failed to pay the premiums or enter into a payment plan. The bottom line is that all employers need to pay for workers compensation coverage. We’re pleased that these overdue premiums will finally be collected.” Worker’s compensation insurance is required by law in the United States, and it is there to protect both employers and employees from litigation and injuries. By following the rules and not committing worker’s compensation fraud, employers can worry less about what unexpected legal fees they will have to pay in the future, and save themselves a lot of headache.