by Jo Ellen Nott
On November 15, 2022, a guard at Illinois’ McLean County Jail was arrested and charged with worker’s compensation fraud after he allegedly lied about a work-related injury to goose his payout from the state-sponsored insurance fund by $10,000.
The arrest of Ryan C. Hitch, 48, came less than two months after Massachusetts officials picked up an employee of the state Department of Correction on similar charges. But that guard, Matthew Hubbard, 54, allegedly made off with much more in his scam: over $86,000.
According to his arrest report, Hubbard was on duty in August 2020 when he was sidelined by an injury suffered while responding to a “code” report. By the time investigators found he was still working as a real estate agent and a reserve cop in another town, Hubbard had collected $74,129.72 in benefits, plus reimbursements for medical appointment transportation costs totaling another $12,518.36, between May 2021 and July 2022. After his arrest, he was released on a $10,000 bond.
In Illinois, McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage reported that Hitch was put on administrative leave without pay onSeptember 15, 2022, while an internal investigation was conducted into alleged policy violations for misuse of leave time. On October 4, 2022, the investigation widened into criminal misreporting of workplace injuries by Hitch.
Deputy Chief Sgt. Hadley Welsch said that Hitch attempted to obtain over $10,000 in the alleged scam. He could not say if Hitch received any of the insurance money, not could he provide further details of his injuries. According to Welsch, Hitch’s injury for the claim occurred in May 2022.
The state’s attorney’s office alleges that Hitch intentionally made false or fraudulent material statements or material representations for the purpose of obtaining a worker’s comp benefit by falsely stating and misrepresenting the severity of an injury. After his arrest, Hitch posted a $20,000 personal recognizance bond for the Class 2 felony charge and was released from the county jail where he worked.
Sheriff Sandage has filed a complaint with his office’s Merit Commission to terminate the guard. In addition, Sandage reported that he has begun a deep dive into worker’s comp claims made by other current and former employees and will pursue charges and seek restitution if any of those cases were based on fraudulent statements or misrepresentations.
Sources: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, Hartford Courant, NPR, WEEK, WGLT, WMBD, WSVN, WTIC
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