Columbia Falls Baker Found Guilty of Workers’ Compensation Fraud

Columbia Falls Baker Found Guilty of Workers’ Compensation Fraud

A Helena jury found Velma Faye Irvin guilty yesterday of felony Theft of workers’ compensation benefits paid by Montana State Fund.

Irvin, 51, was employed as a baker at the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls. On May 3, 2013, Irvin filed an injury report with Montana State Fund, claiming she had hurt her arm and shoulder while making pizza at work that morning. After filing the claim and seeking medical treatment, Irvin returned to work in a light-duty capacity until July 3, when she quit. The following month, State Fund received reports from Irvin’s former co-workers that she had actually injured herself by tripping over her dog at home, not as a result of an on-the-job event. Montana State Fund paid out approximately $3,130 in work comp benefits to Irvin between April 28, 2013 and August 20, 2013. Had the fraud not been detected early in the claim, State Fund would have had to pay out much more if the crime had gone unnoticed.

Attorney General Tim Fox said, “Yesterday’s verdict is proof positive that Montanans take work comp theft seriously, no matter how large or small an amount of money is involved. This win is due to the good and cooperative work of Assistant Attorney General Mary Cochenour, Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Butch Huseby, and State Fund Investigator Shane Shaw, and I thank them for their efforts to ensure our public dollars are carefully accounted for.”

Sentencing is set for January 8, 2015 before District Court Judge James Reynolds in Helena.

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