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Nashua man pleads guilty in U.S. District Court to workers' compensation fraud

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 20. 2018 11:09PM

CONCORD — A former letter carrier from Nashua pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to making false statements to obtain disability benefits after investigators observed him repeatedly moving heavy boxes of comics at a Comicon event in Manchester, despite claims that injuries to his neck, back and arm prevented him from working.

Kenneth Dunn, 60, of Nashua, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Concord to making false statements to obtain federal employee disability benefits, U.S. Atty. Scott Murray said.

According to Murray, the United States Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (“OWCP”) provides workers’ compensation benefits to employees of the federal government, including the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), who are totally or partially disabled due to injuries sustained during the course of their employment.

While receiving the benefits, a disabled employee is required to report all employment for which he or she received a salary, wage or payment of any kind in annual reports submitted to the OWCP. A disabled employee is also required to provide documentation from a medical doctor to demonstrate his or her continued eligibility for the benefits and report any improvements to his or her physical condition.

According to documents and statements made in court, Dunn was hired as a Rural Letter Carrier in April 1985. In November 2010, Dunn began to receive OWCP disability benefits due to employment-related injuries to his neck, back and arm. While receiving the disability benefits, Dunn repeatedly reported to the OWCP that he was not able to work in any capacity, and he was not engaged in any employment activity.

According to federal investigators, between 2010 and 2017 Dunn conducted thousands of transactions related to the purchase and sale of comic books on the internet and failed to report the business activity to the OWCP. In addition, on several occasions from October 2016 to February 2018, a special agent from the USPS – Office of Inspector General saw Dunn engaged in physical activities inconsistent with his reported symptoms and alleged total disability.

According to court documents, the activities included entering and exiting his car; clearing substantial amounts of snow off and from around his car; driving; walking up and down a flight of 30 stairs; conducting personal and business-related errands for several hours; and lifting and carrying items of various size, shape and weight.

Officials claim Dunn was able to perform these tasks without any apparent physical limitation, pain or discomfort and in conflict with medical documentation from his treating physician.

At a Comicon event in Manchester Sept. 17-18, 2016, Dunn set up a vendor booth and repeatedly bent over to place or pick up large boxes filled with comic books. He set up and dismantled a comic book display, sold comic books for cash and stood and sat for long periods without any apparent physical limitation or discomfort. According to court documents, Dunn repeated the same activities at the Comicon event in Manchester Sept. 16-17, 2017.

The court documents also reveal Dunn provided false information about his physical condition to a doctor in February 2017 and March 2018, and false information about his physical condition and work-history to the OWCP in February 2017 and February 2018 in order to receive disability benefits totaling $87,736 from September 2016 through July 2018.

Dunn will be sentenced on Jan. 3, 2019.

“Workers’ compensation benefits are an important source of financial support for individuals who cannot work due to their disabilities,” Murray said in a statement. “Unfortunately, some individuals seek to take advantage of the system to obtain money that they don’t deserve. In order to protect taxpayer money, we will not hesitate to prosecute those who defraud workers’ compensation or other benefit programs.”

“The federal Workers’ Compensation program was created to help those who are recovering from injuries obtained on-the-job,” USPS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Modafferi stated. “When a former Postal Service employee defrauds the Workers’ Compensation program, the Special Agents of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General will work tirelessly with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to protect the integrity of this federal benefit program.”

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