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

Spokane-area man sentenced to pay nearly $94K in workers’ comp scam

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Nov. 30, 2018 #18-032

Spokane –A Spokane County businessman has been ordered to repay the state and federal governments close to $94,000 for stealing disability benefits.

Dennis J. Bennett, 63, of Veradale, pleaded guilty Thursday, Nov. 29, to felony first-degree theft.

At the hearing this week, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese ordered Bennett to pay $93,944 in restitution plus court costs. The restitution will go to the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). The judge also sentenced Bennett to 30 days of incarceration, but allowed him to serve the time in electronic home monitoring.

The Washington Attorney General's office prosecuted the case based on a joint investigation by L&I and the SSA.

Bennett, who was receiving workers’ compensation benefits, was charged with operating a bar and grill he owned in Spokane Valley while telling authorities he couldn't work because he was injured on the job.

In 2016, however, investigators witnessed Bennett serving beer and cocktails, cooking, stocking cabinets, helping load a cooler in a vehicle and doing other job tasks, according to charging papers.

Bennett was originally injured in 2002 while working for a trucking firm. Based partly on his alleged deception, doctors eventually reported to L&I that Bennett's workplace injuries had grown so serious that he could not work.

The doctors' findings, plus Bennett's declarations that he wasn't working, allowed him to receive partial replacement of his wages from L&I.

Lying to the state about working while receiving workers’ comp benefits is a crime. L&I investigates and holds workers’ comp cheaters accountable. Report workers’ comp fraud at Lni.wa.gov/fraud or 1-888-811-5974.

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For media information: Debby Abe, Public Affairs, 360-902-6043.
Connect with L&I: Facebook (facebook.com/laborandindustries) and Twitter (twitter.com/lniwa)

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