Former Suffolk County Corrections Office Pleads Guilty, Sentenced for Fraudulently Collecting Benefits While Working
Defendant Collected Hundreds of Thousands in Overpayments from the State
BOSTON – A former Suffolk County correctional officer has pleaded guilty and been sentenced in connection with fraudulently collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation, disability, and retirement benefits while working, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Paul Mahan, age 42, from Athol, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court to charges of Workers’ Compensation Fraud and Larceny by False Pretenses. After the plea was entered, Judge Linda Giles sentenced Mahan to five years of probation. Judge Giles also ordered that Mahan pay $305,618 in restitution.
“This defendant fraudulently collected state benefits, claiming he could not work, while at the same time working and earning money,” AG Healey said. “These benefits are intended to help individuals who are unable to work as the result of on-the-job injuries and we will pursue those who exploit these programs.”
State and federal law requires claimants of injury-related benefits to periodically make certain disclosures, which may include but are not limited to the certification of their employment status, condition of health, and any earnings while receiving compensation.
On several dates between January 2006 and January 2013, Mahan and co-defendant Kelly Walsh, also of Athol, ran car dealerships in Winchendon and Orange and partnered with another venture while collecting tens of thousands of dollars in benefits derived from previous work related injuries. During this time the defendants failed to disclose any earnings or their work status to the appropriate agencies.
Mahan began working as a correctional officer for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) in May 1997. In August 2000, Mahan sustained a knee injury while on the job that was immediately reported to the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA). The SCSD, a formerly independently insured agency, began paying Mahan benefits retroactive to the date of the injury without contending the findings of the DIA.
In succeeding years, Mahan underwent Independent Medical Exams (IME) as required by DIA, with varying medical opinions of the severity of his condition and ability to work, in order to receive benefits. In May 2006, Mahan was ultimately determined by a judge to be permanently and totally disabled. A recipient of permanent total benefits may collect payments indefinitely.
As the result of these rulings, Mahan was ultimately able to collect three separate checks each month for the injury sustained during his three year tenure at the SCSD: workers’ compensation benefits, Assault Pay, and retirement benefits. The collection of these benefits amounted to payments totaling more than 100% of Mahan’s salary at the SCSD each month.
After paying Mahan benefits for six years, the SCSD initiated periodic surveillance of Mahan in June 2006. On various occasions between 2006 and 2011, surveillance established that Mahan and Walsh were working regularly at Shamrock Motors of Winchendon, a business officially registered in the name of Mahan and Walsh’s wives, performing a variety of tasks on- and off-site. Walsh was also collecting disability through the federally administered Title II Disability Benefits, subsequent to a back injury sustained in May 2004.
Authorities discovered that Mahan and Walsh derived an income from Shamrock Motors. An investigation into the bank accounts associated with the business revealed numerous checks made payable to Mahan, Walsh and their wives totaling more than $385,000.
Further investigation revealed that in June 2007 Mahan and Walsh were employed at another auto dealership in a contract partnership that paid the defendants $38,000 upon their separation.
As a result of Mahan’s failure to report his income, he received an overpayment of more than $203,000 in workers’ compensation benefits from his employer’s insurance carrier, more than $125,000 in Assault Pay and more than $49,000 in retirement benefits. Walsh received an overpayment of more than $46,000 in social security disability benefits during the time of the fraud.
In May 2014, Kelly Walsh admitted to sufficient facts on the charge of Larceny by False Pretenses. His case was continued without a finding for two years and he was ordered to pay $22,320 in restitution.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joshua Pakstis of AG Healey’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from Victim Advocate Amber Anderson of the AG’s Victim Services Division and investigator
s from the Office of the Inspector General.