When you think about people faking injuries in workers’ compensation cases, typically it’s a worker trying to take advantage of the system, right? However, as recent fraud charges demonstrate, sometimes business owners are accused of faking injuries, too.
Byung Sung Kang, the owner of Century Cleaners, an Olympia, Washington-based dry cleaning business, is facing one count of first-degree theft for allegedly stealing workers’ compensation benefits by faking the severity of his injury.
According to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), Kang is accused of stealing:
- more than $21,000 in wage replacement payments from June 2018 through August 2019, and
- almost $50,000 in medical bills, interpreter fees, vocational costs and other benefits from June 2018 through March 2020.
L&I investigators filmed Kang performing physically strenuous tasks at his shop while simultaneously claiming his work-related injury was so severe he had to spend his days resting at home.
In 2015, Kang injured his back while working at his business and began receiving payments from L&I in late 2016 after a doctor told him he was too injured to work.
He continued to submit official forms stating he couldn’t work due to the back injury.
‘Minimally involved’ in business
An investigation began in 2019 “after an internal search of state databases raised questions about him and his business.”
Later, investigators filmed Kang loading and unloading washers and dryers, hanging clothes, lifting and carrying bundles of clothes and bags of garbage, and serving customers at the shop.
The investigators followed Kang to a medical exam where the doctor noted that Kang told him he hadn’t worked since the injury. After the medical exam, Kang drove back to his shop and continued working.
Kang told L&I he was “minimally involved in his dry cleaning business, doing only light tasks and rarely helping customers.”
But two customers, a State Patrol trooper and a delivery service owner reported they’d seen Kang working at his shop since 2016.
If found guilty, Kang could spend up to 10 years in prison and could be ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
Kang pleaded not guilty to the first-degree felony theft charge.