NORTH CANTON, Ohio (WJW) — Retired Canton Police Officer James Blaine is a man for all seasons.
Blaine operates his own landscaping business and has also worked as a security guard. But according to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Blaine is breaking the law every time he gets paid to work, because he is also collecting workers comp benefits, due to a bad back.
An undercover agent with the BWC told FOX 8, “he was receiving what we call permanent total disability benefits as a result of a back injury he suffered on a work related accident, and as a result of that injury he ended up being awarded permanent disability benefits, essentially telling us that he’s never able to return and go back to work again.”
After a comparison of state computer records revealed that Blaine appeared to be “double dipping,” agents conducted an undercover investigation, and recorded numerous instances that revealed Blaine’s back problem did not prevent him from doing strenuous work.
“He was extremely active, for someone who has a back injury, he was bending at the waist, lifting, carrying, very physical, demanding type of work, and he clearly showed on the video that he was able to work,” said the agent known as “Steve.”
Then came the moment, when agents concluded their investigation and confronted the retired police officer with their findings.
“You know there’s not much that he can say, I mean the video speaks for itself,” said “Steve.”
Facing hours of damning video evidence, Blaine pleaded guilty on Thursday to a charge of workers’ compensation fraud, and as part of his punishment, he must pay the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation a total of $89,000 to make restitution and to cover the cost of the undercover investigation that caught him red handed.
Ironically, Blaine lives a half block away from the Canton office of the BWC, but the retired cop never once sensed that he was being followed and recorded during the long investigation. Agents say workers’ comp cheaters like Blaine are depriving workers who really need the benefits.
“The workers’ comp insurance fund is there to help legitimate injured workers who suffer, employers pay into the system, so we’re stopping money from going out to individuals who are not entitled to those benefits,” said “Steve.
At Blaine’s sentencing hearing, a Stark County judge also ordered him to get a full time job and to perform 100 hours of community service.
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