A Wainscott man was arrested on Wednesday, November 12 for defrauding a state fund that compensates workers hurt on the job for wages lost due to their injuries.
Kent Metz, 58, was working as a hand at an East End farm even though he was collecting workers’ compensation on a claim that he had suffered a knee injury while working at a different farm in 2007, according to a spokesman for the New York State Insurance Fund, Bob Lawson. He said that Mr. Metz had received $4,760 in compensation checks.
The state pays workers’ compensation through taxes paid by all employers.
Mr. Metz has been charged with fraud, a felony, and could receive jail time if found guilty. Mr. Lawson said that often such charges are pleaded down to misdemeanors and are punishable by restitution and probationary sentences. His prosecution will be handled by the Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office in county criminal court.
“With businesses fighting to survive in this economy, state agencies must remain vigilant in the fight against all types of workers’ compensation fraud, including so-called double-dipping scams that find able bodied workers collecting benefits to which they are not entitled,” NYSIF Executive Director David P. Wehner said in a statement.
Mr. Lawson said that the state prosecutes an average of about 150 workers compensation fraud cases a year, many on Long Island.
“The Island is a pretty active place for the pursuit of compensation fraud,” he said.
Most such cases are in the construction industry, he noted, and Mr. Metz’s case was the first time he’d encountered one concerning a farm worker.