Renton man sentenced in one of WA's largest workers' comp scams

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WA LNI Communications Services - News

Renton man ordered to repay $340K in one of state's largest workers' comp scams

June 23, 2020                                                                                       #20-017

OLYMPIA — A delivery driver who used his wife’s name to try to pull off one of the state’s largest workers’ compensation fraud cases has been ordered to pay back nearly $340,000.

Robert J. Strasbaugh, 67, who was receiving a workers’ comp pension when he was caught, pleaded guilty on Monday to felony first-degree theft in the case.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese ordered the Renton man to repay the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) more than $339,900. The judge also sentenced Strasbaugh to 45 days in electronic home monitoring.

Strasbaugh, who has already begun to pay back the state, stole nearly $342,000 in workers’ comp, pension, and vocational benefits from 2012 to early 2017. The amount is one of L&I’s largest workers’ compensation fraud cases in recent memory.

“Our investigation showed Mr. Strasbaugh was deliberately deceitful in his attempt to cheat the workers’ comp system,” said Chris Bowe, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards division. “We truly appreciate the public’s help in tipping us off to cases like this.

“Fraud is not a victimless crime. It hurts honest workers and employers who pay into the system and can cause their rates to rise.”

L&I administers the state workers’ compensation insurance system, which provides medical and limited wage-replacement coverage to injured workers.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case based on L&I’s investigation.

Anonymous tip
L&I began investigating Strasbaugh in 2017 after receiving an anonymous tip that he was working under his wife’s name, according to charging papers.

At the time, he was receiving L&I payments to replace part of his wages due to an on-the-job injury he suffered in 2003. A doctor had determined Strasbaugh could not work because of the knee injury and permanently disqualified him from returning to his job as a delivery driver.

Yet despite his official declarations to L&I that he was not working, a two-year investigation determined Strasbaugh had worked multiple delivery driver jobs around the state from May 2012 to January 2017.

Using wife’s name
Investigators determined Strasbaugh used his wife’s name, Jann Strasbaugh, and her Social Security number while working as a delivery driver for one company for about three years. The company owner said Strasbaugh’s work included loading and unloading freight that typically weighed between 100 and 500 pounds.

The investigation also found he worked as a contracted driver under his own name for an apple delivery company. An auto rental business provided records showing that Strasbaugh rented delivery trucks 26 times over an 18-month period, each time signing his name and the company name.

L&I pension
Based largely on doctor assessments and Strasbaugh’s statements, Strasbaugh was found to be “totally and permanently disabled” in 2016. His wage-replacement payments ended, and he qualified to receive L&I pension payments for life, as long as he did not work.

L&I ended Strasbaugh’s pension in 2018 a result of the fraud investigation.


For media information: Debby Abe, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043

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