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The Bureau of Workers Compensation Fraud

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud (BWCF), under the direction of Major Geoffrey Branch in Plantation, is composed of a bureau captain and five dedicated workers’ compensation squads, each supervised by a lieutenant, located in regional offices throughout the state. This configuration places all detectives whose primary responsibility is investigating violations of Florida statutes pertaining to workers’ compensation fraud under a single chain of command focusing the resources of the Bureau on facilitating better communication and permitting the BWCF to be more responsive to the public and its law enforcement and industry partners.


BWCF Staff

Major Geoffrey Branch, Bureau Chief-Bureau of Workers' Compensation Fraud

Major Branch started his law enforcement career in 1995 with the Boynton Beach Police Department. There he served in many capacities, including patrol, multi-agency narcotics task force, detective, street level narcotics investigations, and senior member of the tactical street crimes unit.

Major Branch joined the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud in May 1999, and was assigned as a detective to the West Palm Beach Workers’ Compensation squad. This later developed into the 440 Task Force, a squad charged with the investigation of workers’ compensation premium fraud throughout Florida. As a detective, Major Branch initiated and conducted several large-scale premium fraud investigations which included a newly-discovered facet, the inclusion of non-traditional money service businesses (check cashing stores) as a facilitator. He investigated, and subsequently charged the owners and operators of three of the largest check cashing stores in Broward County.

In October of 2008, he was promoted to lieutenant and supervisor of that unit. In July 2009, he was appointed chief of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation Fraud. Major Branch holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Florida Atlantic University, a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Lynn University, and is also a certified fraud examiner. Major Branch speaks extensively on the topics of workers' compensation fraud and money service business investigations, serves as a Division of Insurance Fraud instructor, and as an adjunct instructor in the criminal justice departments of several colleges and universities.

Captain Vance Akins, West Palm Beach Field Office

Captain Vance T. Akins started his law enforcement career with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office in 1980. He has over 29 years of law enforcement and investigative experience. Captain Akins’ law enforcement experience ranges from street level crimes such as narcotics, grand theft, homicide, internal investigations, insurance and white collar crimes. Captain Akins has served over half of his career as an investigative supervisor holding the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and criminal investigations bureau chief.

Captain Akins has participated in legislative reform concerning workers’ compensation fraud and is a member of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Task Force. Captain Akins has been stationed at the West Palm Beach Office Field Office for the past 15 years.

Captain Akins is a certified law enforcement instructor, teaching at the DFS fraud detective’s academy. Captain Akins is a graduate of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, Southern Police Institute Command Officers Development Course, and represents DIF at many public speaking engagements.

Captain Akins was named captain of the the Bureau of Workers' Compensation Fraud in April 2010.

Lieutenant Ruthell Harris, Orlando Field Office

Ruthell J. Harris holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Florida State University. In 1985, the Department of Corrections hired Lt. Harris as a correctional probation officer, and she worked supervising both felony and sexual offenders.

After 15 years with probation, Lt. Harris entered the police academy and, in 2000, received her State of Florida police certification. In that same year, she continued her law enforcement career by becoming an investigator with the Division of Insurance Fraud. In July 2008, Lt. Harris was promoted to her current position as supervisor of the Orlando Field Office workers’ compensation squad where she continues to develop her anti-fraud and management skills while supervising a squad of detectives.

Lt. Harris is a 2009 graduate of the Southern Police Institute (University of Louisville) Command Officers Development Course (SPI-Class 51).

Lt. Harris is a 2009 graduate of The Southern Police Institute (University of Louisville) Command Officers Development Course (SPI-Class 51).

Lieutenant Doreen Rivera Rapp, Tampa Field Office

Lt. Rapp began her diverse career with the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud in May 2002, when she was hired as a detective assigned to the Tampa Field Office. During her first three years as a detective, Lt. Rapp worked primarily on personal injury protection (PIP) fraud cases. Lt. Rapp was one of four detectives who worked on a protracted PIP investigation that led to the arrests of 14 individuals and resulted in the first set of patient brokering convictions in Hillsborough County, in 2005. Prior to being promoted in 2008, Lt. Rapp worked a variety of general fraud cases, and she specialized in the investigation of licensee fraud. In June 2008, Lt. Rapp won a Davis Productivity Award for her work on a case that she worked jointly with the Division of Agent and Agency Services and the Statewide Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation resulted in the arrest and conviction of an insurance agent who misappropriated homeowner’s insurance premiums from over 40 victims, in multiple counties, during an active hurricane season. Lt. Rapp currently serves as a lieutenant for the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation Fraud, Tampa West Central Field Office, where she oversees a squad of five detectives who work closely with the Division of Worker’s Compensation Compliance and members of the insurance industry to combat worker’s compensation insurance fraud.

Lt. Rapp has an associate’s degree from Nassau Community College in New York, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida, Tampa. In December 2010, Lt. Rapp obtained a Ph.D. from the University of South Florida in adult education and research and measurement.

Lieutenant Deborah de la Paz-Boxer, West Palm Beach Field Office

Deborah de la Paz-Boxer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida in 1993. Lieutenant de la Paz-Boxer graduated from the Palm Beach Community College Police Academy in 1994, following which she began her law enforcement career with the Florida Atlantic University Police Department (FAU PD). While employed by FAU PD, Lt. de la Paz-Boxer served as a uniformed officer and also assisted the detective bureau with conducting follow-ups and criminal investigations resulting in successful prosecutions.

In March of 2000, Lt. de la Paz-Boxer joined the Division of Insurance Fraud as a detective. Lt. de la Paz-Boxer has conducted a variety of investigations ranging from health, life, auto & property fraud, large scale solicitation and personal injury protection, workers compensation fraud, workers’ compensation premium fraud, and check cashing/money service business fraud cases. Her investigations have resulted in arrests and successful prosecutions as well as substantial restitution to victims and investigative costs to the state of Florida. Lt. de la Paz-Boxer has volunteered and participated in the Broward County auto theft task force, the Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Homeland Security Counter Terrorism Unit and most recently the Treasure Coast human trafficking coalition.

In March of 2010, Lt. de la Paz-Boxer was promoted to her current position as a supervisor of one of the workers’ compensation squads in the West Palm Beach Field Office. Her squad includes two Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives temporarily assigned to the Division to assist in the targeting of money service businesses which are facilitating large scale worker’s compensation premium fraud schemes in Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade Counties, with expansion of investigative efforts to the West Coast of Florida planned soon.

Lieutenant Gregory Whipple, West Palm Beach Field Office

Lt. Whipple, who has been with the agency since 1999, heads up the workers’ compensation fraud squad in West Palm Beach and holds a bachelor’s degree in business. Lieutenant Whipple formerly was an officer/plain clothes investigator with the Florida Marine Patrol, currently known as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, from 1990 to 1999. Florida Marine Patrol Enforcement included state and federal violations involving safety equipment inspections, fisheries violations and drug trafficking enforcement, etc.

During his tenure with the Division of Insurance Fraud, Lt. Whipple has worked as a detective on an insolvency squad and a workers' compensation squad in the south Florida area. His investigative knowledge includes, but is not limited to the following areas: insurance agent fraud, organized scheme to defraud and workers' compensation fraud.

Lt. Whipple transferred to Tallahassee headquarters in 2007, where he was assigned to the training unit as a radio tech/ detective responsible for maintaining the agencies sworn members’ certification standards. He was promoted to lieutenant in May 2008, and in August 2009, he left the training unit. He briefly headed up the workers’ compensation fraud squad in West Palm Beach. In 2010, Lt. Whipple transferred to the general fraud squad in West Palm Beach to oversee a variety of insurance fraud investigations. He currently has accepted the lateral transfer to lieutenant’s position overseeing the workers’ compensation fraud squad in West Palm Beach once again.

Lt. Whipple is currently in his 22nd year in sworn active service for the State of Florida.

Lieutenant Jorge Pena, Miami Field Office

Lt. Pena is currently in his 16th year in law enforcement. He began his career with the Miami Dade Public Schools Department as a School Resource Officer, culminating his time with them as an Acting Sergeant.

Since coming to the Division of Insurance Fraud in 2001, Lt. Pena has worked as a Detective and also as a Lead Detective, all in the Broward/Plantation Office. He has worked numerous staged accident cases including the first Brazilian staged accident ring in Pompano Beach. Promoted in December of 2012 to Lieutenant, Jorge will now be heading up the Workers’ Compensation Squad in the Miami Office.

Lt. Pena holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Management from St. Thomas University in Miami and is fluent in both English and Spanish. Lt. Pena is also a Certified Fraud Examiner.

Bureau of Workers' Compensation Statistics

Bureau statistics for this fiscal year through end of third quarter 2012 include 159 presentations for prosecution, 121 arrests. In addition, the squad obtained 78 convictions resulting in $1,585,755.54 in court ordered restitution and $72,701.44 in court ordered investigative costs.

Bureau of Workers' Compensation Case Highlights

  • A North Port man was arrested as a result of a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim in February 2012. The subject was charged with workers’ compensation fraud and grand theft after an investigation revealed that he submitted false insurance claim information regarding his physical capabilities. This false claim allowed him to collect over $34,000 from Dec. 2006 to Aug. 2011 in fraudulent workers’ compensation benefits. The subject misrepresented the extent of his injury and was subsequently captured on surveillance video using his injured hand to lift heavy objects. It was determined that the subject made false statements regarding his physical capabilities; and he had no work restrictions as previously asserted. He was booked into the Sarasota County Jail. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
  • A Miami shell company owner accused of creating more than 250 fraudulent certificates of insurance to help uninsured contractors avoid $2.1 million in workers compensation premiums, was recently arrested following a joint investigation by our Division and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The investigation determined that the subject created a shell company, Y&L Construction Services, Inc., and used money service businesses to carry out the scheme. The owner was arrested on multiple felony charges and was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail. This case is being prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office of the 20th Judicial Circuit and the dedicated workers' compensation fraud prosecutor in the State Attorney’s Office of the 11th Judicial Circuit.
  • A St. Petersburg resident was arrested for workers’ compensation fraud and charged with filing false or misleading information in order to fraudulently obtain workers’ compensation insurance benefits. Although the subject claimed they could not work, she continued to collect full pay from her employer while also collecting these benefits, more than $60,000 in fraudulent workers’ compensation benefits.