News | Communication Services, 360-902-5400 - PublicAffairs@Lni.wa.gov

Former restaurant manager in Seattle charged in $90K disability scam

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Jan. 3, 2018 #18-001

Seattle – A man who managed Seattle restaurants for nearly three years while illegally receiving more than $91,000 in workers' comp benefits is facing a felony theft charge.

William T. Crawley, 48, is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, Jan. 4, on one count of first-degree theft in King County Superior Court.

The Seattle man is accused of wrongfully receiving more than $82,000 in wage replacement payments and nearly $9,400 in vocational rehabilitation benefits from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

The Washington Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case based on an L&I investigation.

"We want injured workers to heal and get back to work," said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I's Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards, "but they must be absolutely honest with us, their doctors and the other professionals who are helping them recover.

"We actively search for workers' comp cheaters. When we find them, we hold them accountable."

Caught through state records check

Crawley was working as a bar manager when he slipped while moving beer into a restaurant cooler, injuring his ankle in 2007. L&I provided him with a variety of workers' compensation benefits, including partial replacement of his wages and training to become a bookkeeper.

While running a routine cross-match of L&I and Employment Security Department data in 2016, L&I investigators discovered Crawley had returned to work.

Employer interviews and records revealed that he worked nearly full time as a manager or assistant manager at a succession of four Seattle restaurants from June 2013 to March 2016. L&I investigators found he earned more than $104,000 over that period.

Doesn't tell doctor about jobs

At the same time, charging papers said, he misled his doctor into thinking that he wasn't working. Based on the misrepresentation, the doctor approved Crawley to receive wage replacement payments and vocational rehabilitation benefits while he was working at the restaurants, charging papers said.

The wage replacement checks included warnings that recipients must not cash them if they returned to work, and that violators who lie or misrepresent the facts would be subject to civil and criminal penalties. During L&I's investigation, Crawley told the investigator he understood the warnings.

Report workers' comp fraud

L&I administers the state workers' compensation system, which provides medical, vocational and other services to help employees injured on the job heal and return to work.

Injured workers are sometimes eligible to receive limited replacement of their wages, if their doctor certifies they can't work because of the injury. Workers, however, must notify L&I if they are working.

If you suspect someone is cheating the workers' comp system, report it on L&I's Fraud Prevention webpage (Lni.wa.gov/Fraud) call 1-888-811-5974.

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For media information: Debby Abe (debby.abe@Lni.wa.gov), L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043.

Connect with L&I: Facebook (facebook.com/laborandindustries) and Twitter (twitter.com/lniwa)

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