Race to the Bottom? North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts Examine Crazy Fraud Case out of Massachusetts

October 26, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most cases of fraud – attempting to game the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, for instance – involve a certain degree of subtlety. For instance, this blog recently covered the sad case of a woman who got accused of workers’ comp fraud after she took a job as an exotic dancer to supplement her income – and then got caught by insurance investigators. In that case, what the defendant did was clearly wrong, but her circumstances seemed bleak and thus somewhat sympathetic.

A breaking case out of Massachusetts contains none of that kind of subtlety. According to Fox News in Boston, John Cloutier, a former prison guard who got on workers’ comp after getting injured on the job in July 2008, has been arrested for fraud. An insider tip revealed that he had been running half marathons and marathons – all while claiming that his lower back was permanently injured.

Here is the basic timeline.

* In July 2008, Cloutier allegedly got injured.

* Starting in January 2009, he started collecting workers’ comp benefits. The 45-year old collected $56,000 between last January and this March.

* After being out of work for half a year for his “lower back injury,” Cloutier ran half a marathon and then a full marathon at Walt Disney World in Florida. In September of 2009, Cloutier did it again – he traveled to California and ran another half marathon.

* In the midst of all this running around, Cloutier applied for disability retirement in June 2009 – an arrangement which would give him 72% of his former salary ($62,000) every year for the rest of his life – tax free.

Cloutier was arraigned on October 26 for fraud charges in Massachusetts Suffolk Superior Court and released on his recognizance. His next court appointment is July. If he is convicted of all the charges against him, he could face 5 years in prison as well as array of fines and other penalties.

It’s impossible to tell from a simple news story whether Cloutier actually committed this crime or not. That’s why it’s important not to rush to judgment on a person. But North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud cases (and fraud cases throughout the United States) do drain millions of dollars from the system. This money could otherwise go to people who legitimately struggle with lower back injuries and other occupational illnesses or diseases.

If you or a family member has suffered a problem that’s prevented you from working, connect with an experienced and responsible North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to discuss potential remedies. A quality firm can help you make sense of your rights and your obligations, keep you strategically focused on maximizing your benefits and minimizing your hassle, and help you defuse constraints that may be preventing you from collecting your benefits.

More Web Resources

John Cloutier legal problems

Another story about the prison guard and his marathon fraud fallout