How could one employee rack up $2.7 million worth of workers’ comp fraud? It can really add up when the case dates back 17 years.
David Brownell, a former Florida corrections officer at the Glades Correctional Institution faces a charge of first-degree workers’ compensation fraud for allegedly faking illness and collecting $2.7 million in claims, including more than $563,000 for lost income.
In 1995, Brownell claimed his work had exposed him to rats and their feces that resulted in respiratory problems that required him to be on oxygen 24 hours a day.
Extensive video surveillance over several years show Brownell wasn’t oxygen dependent. Video shows him in various activities, including playing guitar in a band, attending a concert, driving and smoking cigarettes.
When Brownell surrendered to authorities, he was wearing his oxygen mask.
“It is very disheartening to think that someone sworn to uphold the law may have violated it, and to such a costly degree,” said Florida Chief Financial Office Jeff Atwater.
In the first nine months of 2012, the Florida Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud reports cases leading to 121 arrests and 78 convictions resulting in $1.5 million in court-ordered restitution.
That points to the potential enormity of the Brownell case. It involves almost twice the total dollar amount of fraud that Florida deals with in the course of a year.
The Florida Department of Financial Services has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.