For Immediate Release - December 17, 2010

Billerica Man Pleads Guilty, Sentenced for Theft of $28,000 in Workers' Compensation Benefits

BOSTON - A Billerica man pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court in connection with stealing over $28,000 in workers' compensation disability benefits to which he was not entitled, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced.

William Bertrand, age 54, pled guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to charges of Workers' Compensation Fraud (3 counts) and Larceny over $250 (2 counts). Following the change of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Regina Quinlan ordered Bertrand to serve five years probation and pay $28,558 in restitution.

The Attorney General's Office began an investigation into Bertrand's activities after a referral was made by the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB). In July 1997, Bertrand suffered a legitimate injury while working as a heavy equipment operator and began collecting workers' compensation benefits from his employer's insurer, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (Liberty). Bertrand collected benefits from July 1997 until July 2004, and received a $15,000 lump sum settlement to which he was not entitled in April 2005. Investigators discovered that between June 2003 and January 2005 Bertrand was employed, and collected paychecks from four different employers.

Although Bertrand was permitted to earn some income because he received "partial incapacity benefits," he was required to disclose his earnings to Liberty. In order to continue collecting benefits, Bertrand informed Liberty that he had not returned to work and failed to disclose the income he had earned. Bertrand also filed false earnings reports twice with the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) and Liberty claiming that he had minimal income from self employment. Bertrand's failure to disclose his earnings and his production of false information to both Liberty and the DIA, resulted in over $28,000 in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Indictments were returned against Bertrand on May 28, 2009. Bertrand was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on June 11, 2009, at which time he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Bertrand pled guilty yesterday and was ordered to serve probation and pay restitution.

AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division works to protect consumers and the integrity of the insurance system by investigating and prosecuting those who commit fraud against all types of insurers, including the Commonwealth's unemployment insurance and workers' compensation system. The prosecution of insurance fraud helps prevent the increase in premiums and taxes that are the result of fraudulent insurance claims. To date in 2010, the Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division has obtained over $800,000 in restitution orders in 30 matters.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Marina Moriarty with assistance from investigator Scott Gisetto, both of AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division. Investigators from the IFB also assisted in this case.