As Washington’s unemployment department reels from the largest imposter fraud scheme in its history, the state workers’ compensation division is wrapping up a historical fraud case of its own.
A 67-year-old Renton delivery driver has been ordered to repay nearly $340,000 to Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).
Robert Strasbaugh, who pleaded guilty to first degree theft, has also been sentenced to 45 days of electronic home monitoring for using his wife’s identity to work while cashing L&I pension payments for a knee injury he suffered on the job in 2003.
Strasbaugh was deemed “totally and permanently disabled” after the injury and qualified to receive L&I benefits for the rest of his life, on the condition that he no longer worked.
Despite official declarations to L&I that he was not working, a two-year investigation concluded that he had multiple delivery driver jobs from 2012 to 2017 while receiving his workers’ comp pension. Like many L&I fraud revelations, Strasbaugh’s case was brought to light by an anonymous tipster.
Using his wife’s name and Social Security number, Strasbaugh delivered goods for one company for about three years, loading and unloading freight that weighed between 100 and 500 pounds, according to the company’s owner.
The L&I investigation found that Strasbaugh also worked as a contractor under his own name for an apple delivery company.
“Our investigation showed Mr. Strasbaugh was deliberately deceitful in his attempt to cheat the workers’ comp system,” said Chris Bowe, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards division. “Fraud is not a victimless crime. It hurts honest workers and employers who pay into the system and can cause their rates to rise.”
The Washington Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case based on L&I’s investigation.
If you have a legitimate workers’ comp, L&I, or other employment law claim, contact Emery Reddy. You won’t get better advice.