A Maryland man was sentenced to probation and ordered Wednesday to pay nearly $3,000 in restitution after investigators discovered he had been collecting workers’ compensation payments from the U.S. Postal Service while training as a bus driver for Metro, the transit agency’s inspector general said.
Officials said Da’Mon Price, 24, of Clinton, Md., had taken the job with Metro while he was out of work for an injury allegedly suffered while he was a USPS letter carrier. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo sentenced Price to a year of probation and ordered him to pay $2,940.96 in restitution after Price pleaded guilty to charges of theft of government money.
Price, who could not be immediately reached for comment through his attorney, was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland in May, Price’s doctor said the mail carrier was “totally incapacitated” because of a back injury. The doctor ordered Price to do “No Work” while he recuperated, the court documents said. The complaint did not specify when the injury occurred.
Price received a job offer from Metro in early January, less than a week before he visited the physician, according to court documents. A day after accepting the offer, the complaint says, he claimed a a back injury under the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs and began to receive payments.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said Price began working at the agency on Jan. 23. Price, who worked at the Hyattsville Post Office, resigned from the letter carrier job on Feb. 27, after claiming he was “going back to school,” according to the complaint. Later, court documents said, he told investigators he quit because his doctor told him he was healthy enough to return to work. Meanwhile, he was training as a bus driver for Metro.
Stessel said Price’s employment was terminated on March 24, two months after he started in the training program.
Metro Inspector General Geoffrey Cherrington, in a news release, praised the USPS inspector general’s office for its “fine partnership in this investigation.”
The investigation was jointly conducted by the USPS and Metro inspector generals, the transit agency said.
“This office is committed to the taxpayers to fight fraud and refer for prosecution cases at any level to protect our tax dollars,” Metro Assistant Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming said in a statement. “We want to send a message that any fraud — regardless of the size — will be referred for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”
The Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General issued a short statement Wednesday expressing its commitment to rooting out abuse of the workers’ compensation system.
“The majority of postal employees who collect compensation benefits have legitimate claims. A small percentage, however, abuse the system and cost the Postal Service millions of dollars in fraudulent claims and enforcement costs,” said Paul L. Bowman, special agent in charge with the IG’s regional field office. “Therefore, United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General Special Agents will continue to relentlessly pursue those identified as fraudulently collecting workers’ compensation funds from the Postal Service.”