Howard Neel, of Oroville, California was convicted Tuesday, July 21, 2015 on five counts of workers’ compensation fraud. Mr. Neel was working as a private security officer when, on December 12, 2009, he allegedly sustained injuries during a work-related accident. As Mr. Neel was pumping gas into his car, another vehicle backed into Mr. Neel’s vehicle, which allegedly caused him to fall down and sustain various and extensive injuries.
As part of its defense of the claim, employer and carrier opted to obtain undercover surveillance of Mr. Neel. Contrary to Mr. Neel’s recollection of the event, the surveillance depicted only a minor impact between the two vehicles. The surveillance also revealed Mr. Neel’s inconsistent gait patterns- limping in front of the other driver, but then ambulating normally as soon as the other driver left the scene. Mr. Neel was also shown to be inconsistent in his use of an assistance device- using a cane at the physician’s office, but not using a cane at his home.
Mr. Neel also denied any prior injuries during his medical treatment. However, due diligence on the part of the employer and carrier proved otherwise- Mr. Neel had a similar workers’ compensation injury 10 years prior.
The District Attorney of Butte County, California prosecuted the fraudulent actions in a felony jury trial, partially to deter other fraudulent behavior. Mr. Neel’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 24, 2015. He could face up to five years in prison and fines of $200,000.00.