Former Postal Employee Pleads Guilty To Workers’ Compensation Fraud
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Johnnie Franklin Sullivan, Sr., 73, of Mooresville, N.C., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan C. Rodriguez today and pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud for a job-connected injury, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western of North Carolina.
Jeff Krafels, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General (USPS OIG) for the Mid-Atlantic Area Field Office (MAAFO), which oversees Charlotte, joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and today’s plea hearing, Sullivan, Sr. was employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a mail processing clerk in Charlotte. In May 2005, Sullivan, Sr. sustained an injury at work. Later that year, Sullivan, Sr. began to receive workers’ compensation benefits administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) for employees covered by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). In order to receive and maintain FECA benefits, Sullivan, Sr. was required to submit periodic reports regarding his physical condition and his inability to perform a Postal Service job.
Court documents show that, on multiple occasions, Sullivan, Sr. made false statements and material misrepresentations regarding his physical abilities and medical restrictions. Among the false claims Sullivan, Sr. made was that he was unable to sit for long periods of time, that he could only drive short distances, that he needed to use a cane when he walked, and that he was unable to travel or engage in hobbies and other recreational activities due to his medical condition. As a result of the false statements, over the years Sullivan, Sr. received payments totaling more than $103,261.
According to court records, during the time that Sullivan, Sr. made these false claims, he was posting on social media photos of his many long-distance trips and physically rigorous activities. For example, Sullivan, Sr. posted photos of himself traveling to places in Europe and the United States; walking long distances over different types of terrain; ziplining in Niagara Falls, New York; using surf boards and boogie boards during beach vacations; and participating in shag dancing events.
“For years, Sullivan, Sr. lied about his pain and suffering caused by an on-the-job injury to bilk the federal workers’ compensation program out of thousands of dollars, and used the funds to pay for recreational activities,” said U.S. Attorney King. “When individuals defraud an important program meant to protect injured federal workers, my Office will make sure they are held accountable for their actions.”
“Most postal employees who collect workers’ compensation benefits have legitimate claims. A small percentage, however, abuse the system and cost the Postal Service millions of dollars in fraudulent claims and enforcement costs. Therefore, USPS OIG Special Agents will continue to relentlessly pursue those identified as fraudulently collecting workers’ compensation funds from the Postal Service,” said USPS OIG Special Agent in Charge Krafels.
Sullivan, Sr. pleaded guilty to making a false report in connection with federal compensation benefits and theft of government funds. He was released on bond after the court hearing. A sentencing date has not been set.
The USPS OIG investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth M. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is in charge of the prosecution.