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

Seattle bar manager who worked full time while receiving disability payments must repay state nearly $113K

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March 4, 2019 #19-006

Seattle – A man who managed bars at Seattle-area restaurants while claiming he was too injured to work has been ordered to pay the state nearly $113,000 for stealing workers' compensation disability benefits.

William T. Crawley, 49, must also serve six months in community custody and pay court costs. King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff handed down the sentence Friday for one count of second-degree theft. Crawley had pleaded guilty to the felony charge.

Crawley must make the restitution to the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for nearly $113,000 in cash and vocational benefits he wrongfully obtained.

The Washington Attorney General's Office prosecuted the case based on an L&I investigation. L&I administers the state workers' compensation insurance system, which provides medical, vocational, and other services to help employees injured on the job heal and return to work.

Doctor recommended against returning to the bar manager job

Crawley was working as a bar manager at a Seattle restaurant in 2007 when he slipped while moving beer into a cooler, injuring his ankle. He began receiving workers' comp benefits, including partial replacement of his wages.

Several years later, his physician said he should not return to his previous work due to the workplace injury, and recommended training for a more sedentary job, court documents said. Crawley agreed to receive L&I-paid training to become a bookkeeper, and started school in 2012.

Starts working despite warning

The next year, however, he told his vocational counselor his family was "in a financial bind" and asked if he could work part time while going to school. The counselor warned him his vocational benefits would end if he got a job.

Eight days later, he started working full time as a bar manager at a Seattle restaurant without telling the vocational counselor, court documents said. It was the first in a succession of four full-time jobs he held managing restaurant bars from June 2013 to the spring of 2016.

Caught through state records comparison

While working at the jobs, he misled his doctor and vocational counselor into thinking that he wasn't working, court documents said. He also signed official statements that he was not working and could not work due to his on-the-job injury.

L&I began investigating Crawley in 2016, after a routine comparison of L&I and Employment Security Department data showed he was working while receiving workers' comp benefits.

Report workers' comp fraud

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

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For media information: Debby Abe, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043.

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

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