Attorney General Tim Fox Announces Workers’ Compensation Fraud Conviction
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced Thursday the conviction of a Montana man charged with fraudulently collecting nearly two years’ worth of workers’ compensation benefits from the Montana State Fund.
David Howke, 45, of Whitefish pleaded guilty in Montana District Court Wednesday to a criminal theft charge related to fraudulently collecting over $27,000 in workers’ compensation benefits from the Montana State Fund between April 2013 and March 2015.
Howke filed a claim with the State Fund in December 2012 for a work-related injury. The State Fund accepted the claim and paid medical benefits, continuing bi‑weekly temporary total disability (TTD) benefits of $822 based on information that Howke could not return to work due to the injury.
In November 2014, Montana State Fund received a confidential fraud tip that Howke was working “under the counter,” was playing golf all the time, bragging that he played up to 36 holes of golf daily. Under Montana law, a person who knowingly or purposely earns wages while also collecting TTD wage-loss benefits is guilty of theft.
In January 2015, the State Fund referred an allegation of theft to the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. The Division of Criminal Investigation found that Howke failed to disclose to State Fund that he was capable of working and/or, in fact, was working and earning money while also receiving approximately $27,478.23 in temporary total disability benefits from State Fund.
Howke pleaded guilty in Montana District Court Wednesday to the theft charge, and was given a five-year suspended sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections, and is ordered to pay back $27,478 in fraudulently collected benefits to the State Fund.
“Workers’ compensation fraud is a drain on Montana businesses, and anytime we can mitigate this deceitful behavior, we’re reducing upward pressure on the costs shouldered by businesses in our state,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “I congratulate my staff at the Department of Justice for a job well-done. They should be proud of their work to help Montana businesses.”