70 year old Wanitta Racicot from Spokane Valley has been charged with workers’ compensation fraud and ordered to repay the state $125,000 she collected as disability benefits. Racicot pleaded guilty before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins who charged her with first-degree, felony theft. According to the Washington Attorney General’s Office, in addition to restitution, she has also been ordered to serve 60 days in confinement. She will serve the term at her residence under electronic monitoring.
Racicot filed for workers comp benefits in 2001 after claiming injuries to both arms while working at a restaurant. She has collected workers compensation benefits ever since by regularly signing documents that stated she was unemployed and unable to seek gainful employment due to the injuries. This permitted her to receive wage replacement payouts from Labor & Industries (L&I), Washington State. Later in August 2011, an investigation was launched by L&I to examine her eligibility for a pension. The investigating department employee found Racicot’s case to be suspicious.
She is a Hard Worker!
Racicot told investigators that she was unable to even button shirts or put on earrings since her hands were damaged. However, videotape evidence proved otherwise. An investigator managed to film Racicot doing regular tasks at the Broadway Bar and Grill, a restaurant she co-owned. She was found cleaning dishes, carrying groceries, and scrubbing the floor, which was contrary to what she told investigators and swore in the documents to claim workers compensation benefits.
According to Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards at the Department of Labor & Industries, cheating the workers’ comp system is an act of stealing from employers and workers with legitimate injuries. She said that workers’ comp fraud is not a victimless crime.
Miner Alleges Termination Due to Filing Workers’ Comp Claim
In other workers’ compensation news, miner David Wayne Querry, alleges he was fired from his job after filing for benefits. The miner, who was working for Spartan Mining Company as an underground fireboss, tripped over a rock when traveling a catwalk on his way for a conveyor belt inspection in January. He attempted to file an injury report but was unable to locate the appropriate form.
Many people trip and fall, it does not mean they then go and seek to having someone else pay them money for it.
The company was doing business as Mammoth Coal. Querry managed to fill out the form two shifts later. However, Mammoth Coal failed to report the injury. He also filed a claim through his workers’ compensation lawyer for benefits under the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.
Following his claim, Querry was suspended on Jan. 29th for alleged misconduct, which led to his termination in the first week of Feb. In his suit, Querry claims the actions of the company were motivated by his attempt to receive benefits under the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. Due to losing his job, Querry has had to suffer loss of wages and benefits, which is a major embarrassment and cause for humiliation. Apparently he should not have tripped and fell.
He has also accused Mammoth Coal of violations under the West Virginia Human Rights Act, and is seeking compensation and punitive damages, and other costs, in his suit filed at the Kanawha Circuit Court.