Press release courtesy of Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries
TUMWATER — Three defendants from Tacoma, East Wenatchee and Idaho have been sentenced for cheating the Washington state system that helps injured workers.
In three unrelated cases, the offenders each pleaded guilty to felony theft for stealing workers’ compensation benefits from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Each was receiving wage-replacement payments and other benefits after officially declaring they could not work because their on-the-job injuries were so severe.
Yet L&I investigators found each was working while receiving the state benefits.
“This system is set up to help those who truly need it. When people lie about their ability to work so they can receive benefits, they’re stealing from all of us,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards. “L&I aggressively investigates reports of fraud, and has a variety of tools to catch violators, as these three cases prove.”
Donna Childers-Adams, 50, of Rupert, Idaho, was living under a different name in her scheme to collect workers’ comp benefits while employed as a customer service representative in Heyburn, Idaho, from 2009 to 2012, according to charges filed by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. She had been receiving benefits for years since suffering an on-the-job injury at a construction site in 1995 while employed by a Seattle company.
Childers-Adams was in custody at her sentencing May 2 in Thurston County Superior Court. She had been behind bars since January, when she was arrested in Idaho on a warrant for failing to appear at her arraignment last summer. She returned to Washington after Gov. Jay Inslee signed a warrant for her extradition.
Childers-Adams, who pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, was sentenced to four months in jail, with credit for 94 days served. She was ordered to pay restitution of more than $16,000, plus court costs.
Deana S. Cook, 40, of Tacoma, worked as a human resources manager at a Pierce County landscaping firm in 2009 while collecting workers’ comp benefits for a back injury, according to charges filed by the Attorney General’s Office. Just days before leaving the company she claimed to have injured her thumb on the job. In 2010 and 2011, she worked as human resources director at a Tumwater firm — while receiving wage-replacement payments stemming from the Pierce County job injury.
L&I discovered she was working while comparing its databases with records from the Washington State Department of Employment Security.
Cook pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to two counts of second-degree theft. She was sentenced recently to 90 days in jail, and allowed to serve the time by electronic home monitoring. She had already paid restitution of nearly $38,000, plus court fees and fines.
Rodimiro Cardenas Pacheco, 38, of East Wenatchee, had been receiving workers’ comp benefits since 2001, when L&I investigators found him working at a Wenatchee orchard in 2011, according to charges filed by the Douglas County Prosecuting Attorney. Pacheco fled the area. In January 2014, L&I investigators found Pacheco again, this time working in an Ephrata restaurant. They contacted Ephrata police, who arrested him.
Pacheco pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, and was recently sentenced in Douglas County Superior Court to three months in jail and ordered to repay more than $39,000 in restitution.
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For media information: Debby Abe, L&I Public Affairs, debby.abe@Lni.wa.gov, (360) 902-6043