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Washington County Woman Arrested on Charges of Workers’ Compensation Fraud, Perjury

3/13/2007

CONTACT: 
Nina Banister or Brannon Jordan                                                                                           (850) 413-2842   
 
CHIPLEY– Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced today the arrest of a Washington County woman on charges of workers’ compensation fraud and perjury in an official proceeding.  Laura Harrell Coleman, 57, allegedly created and submitted false time sheets to the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust (FMIT) to receive nearly $340,000 in workers’ compensation reimbursement.
 
Coleman was arrested Thursday in Washington County.  The charges stem from an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) and are being prosecuted in Washington County by the State Attorney’s Office.  DIF’s case agent was Detective Selaina Porter.  If convicted on the charges, Coleman faces up to 30 years in prison, in addition to fines and restitution.
 
“This woman was knowingly and systematically exploiting a system set up to help Floridians in need,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “This office is committed to protecting Floridians and their pocketbooks from these types of crimes.”
 
Coleman’s husband, a sanitation worker for the City of Chipley, was injured during the course of employment.  Because the City of Chipley is a member of the Florida League of Cities, Coleman’s husband was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including attendant care reimbursement, from FMIT. Evidence showed that between October 3, 1999, and April 16, 2006, Coleman created and printed attendant care time sheets that contained false time documentations regarding hours worked by her husband’s attendant care provider. She allegedly signed the attendant care provider’s name on the time sheets without the provider’s knowledge and then submitted those false time sheets to FMIT for reimbursement. Coleman’s actions caused FMIT to pay approximately $339,248 in attendant care benefits to which Coleman was not entitled.   
 
The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance.  Anyone with information about this case or any other suspected fraud case is asked to call the department's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink  oversees the department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.