CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrest of Bay Area Residents for Workers’ Compensation Fraud
Contact: Anna Alexopoulos
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced today the arrest of two Tampa Bay area residents for workers’ compensation fraud. Yvonne C. Timmons, 61, of St. Petersburg, and Willie Lee Kendrick, 52, of Palmetto, are charged with filing false or misleading information in order to fraudulently obtain workers’ compensation insurance benefits.
Since CFO Atwater took office, the Division of Insurance Fraud has arrested 318 individuals for workers’ compensation fraud, resulting in 298 convictions.
“Workers’ compensation insurance laws are intended to protect businesses and employees from losses when legitimate accidents occur,” CFO Atwater said. “We will not stand by and watch while fraudsters like these deliberately undermine the system for their own personal gain.”
An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that Timmons collected medical benefits through her employer’s workers’ compensation policy after an accident at work. Although she claimed that she could not work, she continued to collect full pay from her employer while also collecting these benefits. Timmons denied under oath that she was working and as a result of Timmons’ false statements, Sentry Insurance paid Timmons more than $60,000 in fraudulent workers’ compensation benefits.
In a separate but similar case, Kendrick claimed he experienced a work-related back injury. Further investigation revealed previous medical records showing Kendrick had claimed back injuries in 1983 and 1985 and sought disability benefits on both occasions. As a result of Kendrick’s false statements, Alternative Service Concepts, LLC, paid over $71,000 in fraudulent workers’ compensation benefits.
Timmons and Kendrick were booked into the Hillsborough County Jail and Manatee County jail respectively. If convicted, they each face up to 15 years in prison.
The charges against Timmons will be prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Brian Shrader, a dedicated fraud prosecutor in Hillsborough County. The State Attorney’s Office in Manatee County will prosecute the charges against Kendrick.
The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. Anyone with information about these or any other incidents of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0455. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous.
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.