The owner and manager of an Austin, Texas, restaurant were charged Aug. 23 in a $350,000 workers’ compensation fraud scheme.
LeAnn Mueller, owner of La Barbecue, and her wife, Allison Clem, have both been ordered to appear in court Sept. 28, 2022, to face the charges, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.
The investigation stems from severe injuries an employee suffered in 2016 while operating a piece of kitchen equipment. Mueller and Clem found out about the injuries the same day. The restaurant didn’t have workers’ compensation coverage at the time, so four days later Clem contacted Paychex Insurance.
Investigators found Clem didn’t tell the insurance agent about the employee’s injuries but asked that the new policy be backdated to July 1, 2016, which was three weeks before the employee was injured. Mueller submitted a signed application for coverage claiming the business had no prior losses. This led Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America to approve the policy.
Travelers received the claim for the employee’s injury, approved it and paid the injured worker more than $350,000 in benefits. The insurance company also took responsibility for lifetime care of the injured employee.
Mueller and Clem, if found guilty, could be ordered to pay restitution plus double the amount Travelers already paid in benefits to the injured worker.