Workers' comp auditor sentenced in fraud ring

THE former workers’ compensation auditor involved in a multi-year, complex scheme in West Virginia that siphoned millions in insurance premiums and cash from a large insurance group and bank has been sentenced to six years in federal prison.
Workers' comp auditor sentenced in fraud ring Workers' comp auditor sentenced in fraud ring Workers' comp auditor sentenced in fraud ring Workers' comp auditor sentenced in fraud ring Workers' comp auditor sentenced in fraud ring

 

Donna Schmidt

According to an Associated Press report Saturday citing local newspaper the Charleston Gazette, ex-auditor Arville Sargent, 52, was handed down his punishment on Friday in a Charleston federal court for accepting bribes in exchange for allowing coal company contractors to falsify payroll.

Sargent, who worked for BrickStreet Mutual Insurance, was initially charged with mail fraud and tax evasion in February. In March, he pleaded guilty to the charges.

In all, the court estimated that BrickStreet, over a period between January 2006 and February 2011, was cheated out of $US7 ($A7.35) million as he permitted a still-untold number of people to underreport employee numbers while taking money and other items, including an all-terrain vehicle.

Sargent was working in tandem with a group from southern West Virginia contractor firms Aracoma Contracting, Christian Contracting, Newhall Contracting and T&W Services, officials said.

“Employers in the coal mining industry who cheat the workers' compensation insurance system are really only cheating the hard working miners who risk injury to perform dangerous jobs to provide for their families," US Attorney Booth Goodwin said in February when the former professional was first charged.

Besides Sargent, four others have been sentenced in the scheme. Most recently Jerome Edward Russell of West Virginia, and father-and-son team Frelin and Randy Workman from Kentucky, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and aiding in the scheme.

US District Judge John Copenhaver sentenced Russell and the elder Workman to 30 months in prison. Randy Workman received a 15-month sentence.

Each had faced 25 years plus a $US500,000 fine. The trio, from Aracoma Contracting, were all charged in mid-August.

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