DWS Fraud Unit Secures a Succession of Convictions

Fraudsters face prison, probation and restitution.

CHEYENNE - Investigations by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Special Investigation Unit (SIU) have resulted in nine successful prosecutions of individuals committing Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Insurance (UI) fraud in less than a year. The DWS SIU leads fraud prevention and enforcement efforts for fraud within the department.

Since August of 2015, working with Wyoming's district and county attorneys, the unit has recovered $80,491.03 in total restitution. Those convicted have been sentenced, in total, to twelve months in prison, more than fifteen years of probation and 90 hours of community service as the result of recent investigations.

The majority of the UI fraud cases involve the claimant's failure to report their earnings while filing for unemployment benefits. Within the Workers' Compensation system, claimant, employer and medical provider fraud are the most investigated cases.

"Individuals engaging in fraud not only create higher employer costs, they take resources away from folks who truly need a safety net during difficult times," said Joe Franken, SIU and Quality Assurance Manager. "The DWS Special Investigations Unit has been hard at work over the past year. We will continue our partnerships with Wyoming's district and county attorneys to bring fraudsters to justice."

Cases involving convictions as a result of SIU efforts can be found below:

  • In May of 2016, Michael J. Roth of Wheatland plead guilty to one misdemeanor count for making a false statement and paid full restitution of $5,401.30 in workers' compensation benefits back to the division.
  • In April of 2016 Kimberly Defa of Unita County plead guilty to obtaining unemployment benefits by fraud. Defa was ordered to pay $7,837.00 in restitution and was sentenced to three years of supervised probation.
  • In April of 2016, Andrew Jivelekas, of Worland was sentenced for wire fraud. Jivelekas received one year imprisonment in a federal penitentiary, to be followed by two years of probation, and was ordered to pay $25,781.73 in restitution.
  • In March of 2016, Carlos Pina of Natrona County plead guilty to obtaining unemployment benefits by fraud. Pina was ordered to pay $6,132.00 in restitution and was sentenced to three years of supervised probation.
  • In February of 2016, Victor Rodriguez of Sheridan entered a no contest plea to one count of workers' compensation fraud. Rodriguez is currently awaiting sentencing in District Court in Sheridan County.
  • In February of 2016, David Peeple of Natrona County plead guilty to obtaining unemployment benefits by fraud. Peeple was ordered to pay $11,123.00 in restitution and could be sentenced to one to five years of probation, plus 50 hours of community service.
  • In February of 2016, Homer McCann of Natrona County plead guilty to obtaining unemployment benefits by fraud. McCann was ordered to pay $7,402.00 in restitution and was sentenced to three years of supervised probation.
  • In December of 2015, Joshua Fowler of Natrona County plead guilty to obtaining unemployment benefits by fraud. Fowler was ordered to pay a total of $6,103.00 in restitution and was sentenced to one year of probation, plus 40 hours of community service.
  • In August of 2015, Wesley Collier of Campbell County plead guilty to obtaining unemployment benefits by fraud. Collier was ordered to pay $10,711.00 in restitution and was sentenced to five years of supervised probation.

At this time there are ten additional cases pending across the state.

Fraud can be reported directly to DWS by calling (307)777-6370, or by visiting wyomingworkforce.org.

More News >>