A Renton delivery driver has been ordered to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state after pulling off one of the largest worker’s fraud compensation scams in Washington’s recent history.
Robert Strasbaugh, 67, has pleaded guilty to first degree theft in the case and will need to pay back almost $340,000 to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. He must also spend 45 days in electronic home monitoring.
Strasbaugh was using his wife’s name to work while still receiving L&I payments for an on the job knee injury in 2003. A doctor had determined he could not work and permanently disqualified him from returning to his job as a delivery driver.
While receiving L&I, he used his wife’s name and Social Security number for his work for about three years. The company owner said Strasbaugh’s job included unloading freight weighing between 100 to 500 pounds. He also contracted under his own name for an apple delivery company, and rented delivery trucks 26 times while signing his name and his company’s name.
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.
The state began investigating him after receiving an anonymous tip in 2017. After two years of investigation, it was determined Strasbaugh had worked multiple jobs as a delivery driver from 2012 to 2017, according to the department.
L&I ended Strasbaugh’s pension in 2018 as a result of the fraud investigation.
“Our investigation showed Mr. Strasbaugh was deliberately deceitful in his attempt to cheat the workers’ comp system,” Chris Bowe, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards division, stated in a press release. “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.