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March 16, 2004

Former Snohomish County man pleads guilty to first-degree theft in workers’ comp case

TUMWATER — A 37-year-old former resident of Snohomish County, Timothy Smith, has pleaded guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court to first-degree theft after he was caught working for various employers while collecting workers’ compensation for a workplace injury.

Smith was working for a transmission repair company in Everett when he injured his arm and shoulder in November 2000. He underwent surgery and collected time-loss benefits until he returned to work in August 2002. A crosscheck of his name with the Department of Employment Security revealed he had been working at several other jobs while collecting benefits from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Following an investigation, the department turned the case over to the Snohomish County Prosecutor, who filed charges.

Smith failed to appear in court to answer charges. He eventually wound up in California, where he was arrested in January and held until he could be extradited back to Washington. L&I paid the extradition costs. Smith was sentenced to 21 days in jail and ordered to repay costs associated with bringing him back to the state. In all, Smith owed the State Fund more than $15,000 in workers’ compensation insurance benefits, penalties and interest.

L&I is taking significant steps to uncover fraud and abuse of the workers’ compensation system and prosecute workers, employers and health-care providers who take advantage of the system. Last week, the agency suspended the registration of three contractors who owe more than $600,000 in insurance premiums, penalties and interest.

Labor & Industries runs Washington’s workers’ compensation system, which provides industrial insurance for about 1.9 million workers - 70 percent of the state’s workforce.

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Radio broadcast version:

A 37-year-old Snohomish County man has been extradited from California and has pleaded guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court to first-degree theft in connection with workers’ compensation benefits he illegally collected from the Department of Labor & Industries.

Labor & Industries says the man, Timothy Smith, owed the State Fund more than fifteen thousand dollars in benefits, interest, penalties and the cost of extraditing back to Snohomish County.

The department said Smith’s extradition is part of a larger crackdown on fraud and abuse of the state’s workers’ compensation system. Last week, the department suspended three contractors who owe the state more than six hundred thousand dollars in unpaid insurance premiums and interest.

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For media information: Robert T. Nelson, L&I, 360-902-6043 or nelq235@LNI.wa.gov

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