Baker, technician charged in separate King County workers' comp scams
May 10, 2016
Tumwater – A baker and a technician have been charged with stealing thousands of dollars in disability benefits in unrelated fraud cases.
Yurizan Cuevas (also known as Yurizan Cuevas Nava), 32, of Federal Way, and Kyle Valle, 30, of Algona, are accused of falsely claiming they couldn't work because of workplace injuries and then accepting workers' compensation payments. Each is slated to appear in King County Superior Court on Wednesday, May 11, to face one count of first-degree, felony theft.
The Washington Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the cases based on investigations by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
Injured in workplace robbery
Yurizan Cuevas was working as a baker and cashier at a café in the White Center neighborhood of Seattle when it was robbed in November 2010. While running from the robber, she hit a wall and injured her back.
Cuevas filed for workers' comp, and health care providers verified she couldn't work because of injuries from the incident. This allowed her to receive wage-replacement checks from L&I.
An L&I investigation later revealed, however, that Cuevas worked full time as a nanny, earning an estimated $3,200 a month for nearly two years starting in September 2011. According to charging papers, she also worked six weeks in 2011 as a house cleaner for another employer — performing both jobs while stating on official forms that she could not work because of her injuries.
In an interview with an L&I investigator, Cuevas acknowledged that she worked as a housekeeper and said she babysat for just a few days. But when confronted with timesheets, charging papers said, Cuevas admitted she served as a nanny from the time her charge was three months old to two years old. She's accused of stealing more than $24,800 in wage-replacement checks from the state.
Injures head, drives tow truck
Kyle Valle was injured when he hit his head on a support joist while working in Kirkland as a service technician for a waterproofing company in May 2014. Valle filed a workers' comp claim, and medical providers verified he couldn't work full time due to head and neck injuries.
Valle stated on official forms that he was unable to work due to his workplace injury. In reality, court documents said, an L&I check of Employment Security Department records and an interview with a Seattle used-car dealership found that Valle worked as a tow truck driver for the dealership from September 2014 through early June 2015.
Valle is charged with stealing nearly $10,500 in wage-replacement checks and nearly $2,100 in vocational services from L&I.
Cheating legitimately injured employees
"Claiming you're unable to work and accepting workers' comp checks while working another job cheats legitimately injured employees and their employers," said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I's Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards. "We aggressively investigate and pursue scammers so we can protect the system that helps workers heal and return to work."