A look at other comp fraud cases

by Nolan Clay Published: March 3, 2013
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Johnny Lee Crowder filed for workers' compensation benefits for an injury to his left hand he said he suffered on May 31, 2010, working at Classic Carpet in Lawton. He claimed he ripped the hand on a grate at work when he tripped and fell.

His fraud was easy to prove. May 31, 2010, was Memorial Day and the carpet business had been closed. Crowder actually cut his hand at a private residence in Lawton trying to fix a car window, records show. Paramedics had been called.

Crowder, 43, pleaded guilty last year to workers' compensation fraud and admitted he “in fact ... was injured at home.” He agreed to spend five years on probation and pay $1,172 in restitution.

Saffa

On disability for months, Jonathan Farris Saffa of Cushing told a doctor in June 2009 that the pain in his back had not decreased. He had complained in the past of a throbbing, burning sensation that made it difficult to do yard work, walk, climb stairs, squat, sit or kneel.

That same day, a private investigator caught Saffa on video coaching a boys' baseball game and squatting with his back against a fence, catching and throwing balls and carrying a water bucket. “Mr. Saffa is obviously not having many of the problems he claims to have,” another doctor reported after seeing the video.

Because of the video, a workers' compensation judge in 2010 denied any further benefits to Saffa. The judge found Saffa did not suffer an injury while working for an environmental services company.

Saffa, 41, was charged in Oklahoma County District Court last year with workers' compensation fraud. In testimony in his comp case, he said he was really hurt but refused to be laid up in bed all day “when it comes down to the kids.”

“They are being punished enough with me being out of work,” he said.

His fraud case is pending.

by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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