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Foregoing workers' comp coverage costs Ohio businesses

NEWS RELEASE

Nov. 2, 2018

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) secured court convictions in October against three Ohio business owners — including a Cleveland-area man for the second time since 2016 — who failed to protect their workers with proper BWC coverage.

“We made every attempt to bring these employers into compliance with Ohio law, but they wouldn’t cooperate and we were forced to bring charges against them,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department (SID). “I can’t stress this to employers enough: If you’re struggling with your BWC premiums, work with us. Avoiding us will only make your situation worse.”

Among those convicted were Kurt A. Ballish of Chardon, Ohio, owner of Kurt Ballish Construction & Custom Decks. He pleaded guilty Oct. 22 to two misdemeanor counts of Failure to Comply, the same charges he pleaded guilty to in 2016.

A judge in Chardon Municipal Court ordered Ballish, who owes BWC nearly $19,000, to become compliant with Ohio’s workers’ compensation law or go to jail. He sentenced Ballish to one year of probation in lieu of 90 days in jail and ordered Ballish to pay fines and court costs totaling $642 by Nov. 30.

In Cincinnati, the owner of a now-closed transportation services company must pay BWC more than $159,000 in restitution following his guilty plea to a reduced charge of workers’ compensation fraud.

Philip Ayers, owner of Ayers Transportation Services, pleaded guilty Oct. 24 in a Hamilton County courtroom to the first-degree misdemeanor charge. A judge sentenced Ayers to two years of probation and ordered him to maintain full-time employment and cooperate fully with BWC and the Ohio Attorney General’s office on his payment plan to BWC.

In another employer case, the owner of Triple R Auto Sales in Cleveland pleaded guilty to one count of Failure to Comply Oct. 1 after BWC discovered the business had been in operation for 11 years without workers’ comp coverage.

A judge in Cleveland Municipal Court ordered Rami Khayat to pay BWC $965 in restitution. An injured-worker claim filed against Khayat’s business triggered BWC’s investigation.

In other news, a Columbus tow-truck driver who falsified records to increase his BWC cash benefits pleaded guilty Wednesday to a first-degree misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation fraud.

A Franklin County judge sentenced Jason E. Moffitt to two years of community control in lieu of a three-month jail sentence. The judge also ordered Moffitt to pay BWC $5,325 in restitution.

BWC investigators say Moffit intentionally inflated his income on an earnings statement and signed another person’s name to it. The letter was used to establish Moffitt’s BWC compensation payments.

Click here for a photo of Moffitt.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.

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Media Contacts:

Melissa Vince, 614-466-2956 or 614-202-2329, melissa.vince@bwc.state.oh.us

Tony Gottschlich, 614-644-4940 or 614-296-1734, anthony.gottschlich@bwc.state.oh.us

Established in 1912, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio and serves 242,000 public and private employers. With 1,800 employees and assets of approximately $29 billion, BWC is the largest state-run insurance system in the United States. Our mission is to protect Ohio's workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates. For more, visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.