Jury Finds Matthew Ailer Guilty of Workers’ Compensation Fraud
A Helena jury found Matthew Ryan Ailer guilty Friday of felony workers’ compensation fraud.
The Montana Attorney General’s Office charged Ailer in 2014, alleging that on October 16, 2011, he had staged a work place accident with his two co-workers by placing a 200-pound floor buffer on his chest in an attempt to create work-place injuries so that he could collect worker’s compensation benefits he was not entitled to receive. Earlier this year, Ailer’s co-workers Chelsea Chafee and Jeffrey Russell pled guilty to accountability to theft of worker’s compensation benefits for their part in assisting Ailer in defrauding workers’ compensation.
Both Chafee and Russell testified at Ailer’s week-long trial, saying that they placed the buffer on top of Ailer’s body and that Chafee rocked the machine back and forth in an attempt to produce injury. When no injury was produced, Russell stated he punched Ailer repeatedly in the arm and leg to try to create bruising. Montana State Fund, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for Ailer’s employer (Garden City Janitorial of Missoula), paid out more than $66,000 in benefits to Ailer in relation to the injury claimed on October 16, 2011. The Attorney General’s Officer further alleged that when the claim was accepted, Ailer exaggerated his symptoms to medical providers so he could receive wage loss benefits and negotiate a larger settlement.
“Defrauding Montana’s workers’ compensation program constitutes theft from the employers who pay into the system,” Attorney General Tim Fox said. “Those funds are there so workers who are legitimately injured can receive the care they need and get back on their feet. I’m grateful to Assistant Attorney General Mary Cochenour, our investigative agents, and the team at Montana State Fund for working together to prosecute this and other instances of fraud.”
“At Montana State Fund, we are committed to the detection and prosecution of all types of workers’ compensation fraud. We are hopeful that our actions to pursue these cases will deter others from committing this crime,” said Laurence Hubbard, President of Montana State Fund.
District Judge Kathy Seeley set sentencing for January, 2016. Ailer faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in the Montana State Prison and a fine of up to $50,000, plus restitution owed for receiving the benefits he was not entitled to receive.