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Sept. 27, 2004

Burien physical therapist charged with overcharging L&I

TUMWATER — King County prosecutors have charged the owner of Peak Performance Physical Therapy with first-degree theft, accusing James Gordon Aiton of falsely billing the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for over $375,000 worth of treatments his company never performed.

If convicted, Aiton could be ordered to repay the amount of the alleged false billings, plus a $20,000 fine. First-degree theft also carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. No trial date has been set.

L&I began investigating the company in 2000 after an L&I nurse consultant noticed a billing discrepancy. An audit and investigation by L&I’s Provider Fraud program determined that the company had billed L&I for thousands of therapy sessions that never occurred. The case is part of a broader effort to crack down on those who attempt to cheat the workers’ compensation system.

As a result of another L&I investigation, a Lynnwood man has pleaded guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court and been sentenced to four months in jail for falsely filing 13 injured-worker claims in order to receive prescription drugs. Arnie Lou Zinke has been in the Snohomish County Jail since July 27. A restitution hearing is set for Dec. 3.

“We want to thank prosecutors in both counties for taking these cases,” said Carl Hammersburg, manager of L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Compliance Program. “Labor & Industries is committed to fighting fraud and preparing cases that county prosecutors can take to court and win.”

L&I provides workers’ compensation coverage for about 160,000 employers and 1.9 million workers. In addition to providing benefits to injured workers, the system protects employers from the high cost of lengthy claims and from tort lawsuits resulting from workplace injuries.

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For media information: Robert T. Nelson, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043 or nelq235@LNI.wa.gov or visit the L&I News and Media Center at www.LNI.wa.gov/News.

Broadcast version

A Department of Labor & Industries investigation has led to first-degree theft charges being filed against the owner of Peak Performance Physical Therapy. King County prosecutors have charged James Gordon Aiton of Burien with billing the state’s workers’ compensation system for over $375,000 worth of treatments he never performed. A trial date has not yet been set.

As a result of another L&I investigation, Arnie Lou Zinke of Lynnwood has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to four months in jail for filing false workplace-injury claims in order to receive prescription drugs. Zinke has been in the Snohomish County Jail since his arrest July 27.

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