Updated: Jul 03, 2017 1:49 PM EST
BILLINGS, MONTANA -
A former state employee recently pleaded guilty to attempting to fraudulently obtain workers’ compensation from his employer for a knee injury that he did not actually receive on the job.
Boone Block, 34, of Clyde Park pleaded guilty in Montana District Court in Helena in late June to one count of making a false claim to public agency, which is a felony offense.
Block claimed he suffered a work-related injury in February of 2016 when he injured his knee while working for the Montana Department of Transportation in Livingston.
He had claimed he was injured when he jumped out of a truck while at work.
Block was approved for temporary total disability benefits based on his doctor’s conclusion that he could not return to work due to the injury.
The Montana State Fund received a tip to its fraud hotline in March of that year stating that Block actually injured himself while riding his motorcycle at a track in Bozeman. This moron had even posted many photos in his web pages where he rides motorcycles for sport in rough terrain. We caught the crook!
The allegations were forwarded to the Montana Department of Justice for review and further investigation.
Witnesses interviewed reported that they saw Block become injured at the motocross track.
Block has been ordered to pay $3,000 in fines and was given a 3-year deferred sentence.
“At a time when State agencies are being asked to do more with less, it’s particularly troublesome that a public employee would engage in this type of fraudulent behavior,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox in a press release.
“This case is a good example of how vigilant and honest Montana citizens can alert authorities to bogus claims and help conserve work comp monies for injured workers who truly need assistance with medical expenses and lost wages," said Fox.
A state employee who said he got hurt at work and claimed disability from the state's workers' compensation insurer, but was actually injured riding a motorcycle at a Bozeman racetrack, has admitted to a felony and will pay a $3,000 fine.
Boone Block, 34, of Clyde Park, pleaded guilty June 14 to false claim to a public agency. He was also given a three-year suspended sentence. He had previously pleaded not guilty and was facing a jury trial.
Block said he was hurt at work on Feb. 26, 2016, while working for the state Department of Transportation in Livingston. He submitted a workers' compensation claim to the State Fund, saying he jumped off the back of a work truck and hurt his right knee.
One of Block's co-workers said he didn't see Block get hurt that day, but Block did tell him he was going to ride his motorcycle over the weekend, court documents state. Block called his supervisor on Feb. 27, a Saturday and said he was hurt at work the day before. On Sunday Block went to the emergency room at the hospital in Livingston. He saw another doctor March 3. He told both doctors he hurt his knee jumping out of a work truck.
State Fund approved temporary total disability based on doctors' statements Block was too hurt to return to work because of his knee injury. State Fund started paying Block's medical bills and set aside more than $30,000 in reserves to pay for Block's lost wages and treatment.
But on March 2, State Fund got a tip through its fraud hotline saying Brock was hurt on a motorcycle. Block told a State Fund investigator he did not ride a motorcycle that Saturday, but did leave the house to buy his girlfriend a bicycle. A State Fund investigator interviewed the owner of Hyline Raceway in Bozeman, where Block had purchased a membership the day before.
A motorcycle shop owner also told the investigator he sold a Honda motorcycle to Block and his girlfriend that Saturday morning and that the girlfriend said she was not going to ride the bike, but planned to watch Block ride.
Finally, the investigator contacted a man who was riding his motorcycle at Hyline Raceway that Saturday who said he saw a man arrive with two motorcycles in the back of a truck. The man was with a woman, who stayed in the vehicle the whole time. The man who was at the track said that after a while the other man approached him and said he had just injured his knee. The man appeared to be in significant pain and could barely stand on the leg.
On March 10, Block called State Fund and withdrew his workers' compensation claim because of the investigation.
“At a time when state agencies are being asked to do more with less, it’s particularly troublesome that a public employee would engage in this type of fraudulent behavior,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. “This case is a good example of how vigilant and honest Montana citizens can alert authorities to bogus claims and help conserve work comp monies for injured workers who truly need assistance with medical expenses and lost wages.”