Clyde Park Resident, Former State Employee Pleads Guilty in Work Comp Fraud Case
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced today a Clyde Park man and former State of Montana employee charged with attempting to fraudulently collect workers’ compensation benefits from the Montana State Fund has pleaded guilty in a plea agreement.
Boone Block, 34, pleaded guilty in Montana District Court in Helena on June 14 to one count of false claim to public agency, a felony, related to fraudulently filing a workers’ compensation claim with Montana State Fund. Block claimed he suffered a work-related injury to his right knee while working for the Montana Department of Transportation in Livingston on February 26, 2016. The State Fund accepted Block’s claim and approved him for temporary total disability benefits based on a doctor’s conclusion Block could not return to work due to the injury.
On March 2, 2016, Montana State Fund received a confidential tip via its fraud hotline that Block had in fact injured himself while riding his motorcycle at a track in Bozeman the day after he claimed to have been injured jumping out of a truck at work. The State Fund referred the allegation of theft to the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). At that time, State Fund provided DCI with a case file that included State Fund’s investigative report, which contained information from its March 8, 2016 investigator’s interview with Block about his injury. DCI reviewed the file and conducted additional investigative work. Witnesses reported seeing Block at the motocross track and injuring his knee there. On March 10, 2016, Block called State Fund and withdrew his worker’s compensation claim.
On November 16, 2016, Block appeared in Montana District Court in Helena and pleaded not guilty; a jury trial was set. On June 14, 2017, Block pleaded guilty to false claim to a public agency at a change of plea hearing, was given a three-year suspended sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections, and was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine.
“At a time when State agencies are being asked to do more with less, it’s particularly troublesome that a public employee would engage in this type of fraudulent behavior,” said Montana Attorney General Tim Fox. “This case is a good example of how vigilant and honest Montana citizens can alert authorities to bogus claims and help conserve work comp monies for injured workers who truly need assistance with medical expenses and lost wages.” Attorney General Fox also thanked Assistant Attorney General Mary Cochenour, DCI Agent John Komora, Montana State Fund Fraud Coordinator John Forsman, and Montana State Fund Investigator Shane Shaw for their diligent efforts and teamwork on the case.