Loose lips sink ships. In this case, bragging about how he would sink putts led to a criminal conviction for workers’ compensation fraud.
David Howke, 45, of Whitefish, MT, pleaded guilty to one criminal theft charge related to fraudulently collecting more than $27,000 in workers’ comp benefits from the Montana State Fund between April 2013 and March 2015.
According to the Montana Attorney General’s office, Howke filed a claim for a work-related injury in December 2012. The State Fund accepted the claim, covered Howke’s medical expenses, and paid him $822 in temporary total disability (TTD) benefits every two weeks for wage replacement because he couldn’t work.
In November 2014, the State Fund received a tip that Howke was working, playing golf and bragging that he played up to 36 holes of golf daily.
Under Montana law, knowingly earning wages while collecting TTD wage-loss benefits is guilty of theft.
The Montana Department of Justice’s criminal division investigated and found Howke failed to disclose that he was working and earning money while also receiving TTD benefits from the State Fund.
Howke pleaded guilty to the theft charge and was given a five-year suspended sentence. He’s also ordered to pay back $27,478 in benefits he collected from the State Fund.
“Workers’ compensation fraud is a drain on Montana businesses, and anytime we can mitigate this deceitful behavior, we’re reducing upward pressure on the costs shouldered by businesses,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.
Based on estimates by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), workers’ compensation fraud is a $30 billion problem annually in the United States.