TULSA — Three burned co-workers at a metal fabrication company here are accused in charges of workers' compensation fraud of lying about how they were injured.
Nathaniel Eugene McAlexander, 35; Joshua A. Duckworth, 23; and Andrew Ozias, 21, are the first to be charged this year by the Oklahoma attorney general's office with workers' compensation fraud.
They worked the evening shift at L.E.F. Inc.
The three blamed their facial burns on a flash fire caused by a leaking welding torch inside the plant the night of Nov. 19, 2011. All three filed for workers' compensation benefits in December 2011.
Prosecutors allege they really suffered the burns while playing around outside the plant with small explosives.
No evidence of equipment malfunction was found inside the plant, and a fourth worker at the plant that night said he did not see or hear any flash fire or explosion.
Outside the plant, a supervisor found a soot-covered cigarette lighter, a pressure tank, fragments of a balloon, a burned and exploded five-gallon plastic container and two plastic drinking bottles believed to have been used as small explosive devices, an attorney general's investigator reported.
The supervisor also found inside McAlexander's work locker fireworks, a golf ball with a fuse inside it, several balloons and several plastic, hollow practice golf balls.
The felony charges are pending in Tulsa County District Court.