Clark County contractor faces theft charge for taking $127K in workers’ comp while running own company
VANCOUVER — A Clark County man has been charged with stealing $127,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for working at his own construction business while claiming he was too injured to work.
Daniel Joseph Lesieur, 54, of Washougal, pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree theft in Clark County Superior Court today (Tuesday, Nov. 22).
Lesieur is accused of deceiving medical and vocational providers and falsely completing official forms so he could take nearly $121,000 in wage replacement payments and more than $6,200 vocational training benefits from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
At the same time, from January 2019 to October 2021, his construction firm, Elk Ridge Custom Homes, Inc., was paid more than $370,000 for home improvement and mobile home jobs.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on a fraud investigation by L&I, which oversees the state workers’ compensation system.
“Wage replacement checks are intended to provide some financial assistance to seriously injured workers who aren’t working due to their injury,” said Randy Littlefield, deputy assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division.
“We do not tolerate double-dippers who try to game the system and cheat to get benefits.”
L&I helps workers injured on the job heal and get back to work. Employees who can’t work because of their injury and who meet certain conditions can receive payments for part of their lost wages.
L&I began investigating Lesieur in the spring of 2020 after staff discovered he was associated as a principal or owner with several construction businesses in the past, according to charging papers.
National chain paid contractor’s firm $216,000 for consumer jobs
Lesieur injured his left shoulder shoveling asphalt while working on a road crew for several months in 2018.
Medical and vocational providers determined he was unable to resume similar work, based partly on his statements. Their assessments and Lesieur’s declarations on L&I forms that he wasn’t working made him eligible to receive wage replacement payments starting in January 2019.
But six weeks after filing the L&I injury claim, charging papers state, Lesieur signed a contract for his company, Elk Ridge Custom Homes, Inc., to do consumer construction projects for a national home improvement and building materials chain. He wrote in the application that his company had a work crew and annual sales revenue of $1.5 million.
Though he had several chances, Lesieur never mentioned in L&I paperwork nor told his medical or vocational providers about his company or the contract.
Portland, Clark County customers identify contractor
Investigators interviewed more than 15 customers, mostly in the Portland and Clark County areas, who said Lesieur personally provided them bids or home remodeling services on behalf of the national chain in 2019 and 2020.
At the same time Lesieur was telling L&I he was unable to work, the chain paid his Elk Ridge company more than $216,000 from January 2019 through May 2021, charging papers state.
During the same period, a separate company paid Elk Ridge more than $155,000 for modifying and retrofitting mobile home foundations.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Lesieur’s trial was scheduled for Jan. 30, 2023.
If you suspect someone is cheating the workers’ compensation system, contact L&I's fraud division or call 1-888-811-5974.
Debby Abe L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043