Safety and OSHA News

Ex-Postal Service employee faces jail time for workers’ comp fraud

A former U.S. Postal Service employee was recently convicted of conducting a 15-year workers’ comp fraud scheme. The jury determined she fraudulently collected more than $429,000 in federal disability benefits since September 2001. 

Carol-Lisa Gutman, 62, of Delmar, New York, began receiving federal comp benefits in 1987 after claiming to have injured her back while working for the Postal Service. Gutman claimed she was completely disabled, and she regularly reported to her doctors that she was housebound and was unable to do any substantial amount of bending, lifting, carrying or even sitting.

Gutman reported she didn’t do any household-related tasks. She also reported that she spent 15 hours each day in a large hot tub to get relief for her back pain.

During a six-day trial, evidence included hours of video recordings of Gutman from 2011 through 2013, showing her working in her yard, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, carrying large amounts of yard waste and bending over repeatedly.

Neighbors also witnessed Gutman over the years shoveling snow, riding a bike, carrying cinder blocks and doing other activities without apparent discomfort, according to the Times Union.

Gutman’s attorney tried to get the video evidence blocked from the trial. The Times Union quoted her attorney stating in her brief to the judge:

“To the extent that portions of longer periods of surveillance are clipped and strung together in a sequence or montage in a single continuous video, any such proof would be overwhelmingly prejudicial and misleading for the jury as it fails to reflect the actual length of time of any activity Mrs. Gutman was performing. In most, if not all of the surveillance videos, Mrs. Gutman is engaged in an activity for less than 45 minutes.”

Gutman received more than $429,000 in benefits between September 2001 and April 2016, the time period covered by her indictment.

The jury convicted her of five counts of wire fraud, two counts of federal employees’ compensation fraud, and one count of theft of government money.

Gutman will be sentenced in Syracuse on Oct. 26, 2016, by Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin, Jr., who presided over the trial. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Gutman must also pay restitution to the government.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, and it was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Perry.

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