For Immediate Release - February 25, 2011

Fall River Man Indicted in Connection with Fraudulently Collecting Over $17,000 in Disability Benefits While Working

FALL RIVER - A Fall River man has been indicted in connection with fraudulently collecting over $17,000 in disability benefits while working, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced.

Israel Aponte, age 28, was charged with Workers' Compensation Fraud and Larceny over $250.

"Workers' compensation fraud is a serious crime which can lead to premium increases for employers already struggling to stay in business," said AG Coakley. "We allege that Mr. Aponte manipulated the system by obtaining gainful employment while continuing to collect disability benefits from his former employer."

According to authorities, Aponte suffered an injury while working as a sales department supervisor for a home improvement specialty retailer in November 2005. Following the injury, Aponte began receiving temporary total disability (TTD) benefits from the company's insurance provider and continued to receive benefits after his position was terminated in November 2006.

Authorities allege that while collecting benefits, Aponte obtained employment as a sales associate at a bakery café in North Dartmouth in January 2007. According to authorities Aponte worked at the bakery café from January 2007 through May 2007 and from August 2007 through November 2007, during which time he earned over $7,000.

According to authorities, Aponte's former employer filed for a discontinuance of benefits based on an independent medical examination report and terminated benefits in October 2007. Authorities allege that during the relevant time period Aponte collected a total of $17,115.15 in workers' compensation benefits while working. This matter was referred to the Attorney General's Office on behalf of Aponte's former employer in August 2010 for further investigation.

A Bristol County Grand Jury returned indictments against Aponte on February 17, 2011. Aponte is scheduled to be arraigned in Bristol Superior Court on March 24, 2011.

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. In 2010 the Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division obtained over $800,000 in restitution orders in 30 matters.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Omar Gonzalez-Pagan of AG Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from investigator Scott Gisetto of the Attorney General's Office.

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