A Washougal man is accused of stealing $127,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for working at his construction firm while claiming he was too injured to work, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries.
Daniel Joseph Lesieur, 54, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of first-degree theft in Clark County Superior Court, the department said in a news release. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 30.
Lesieur allegedly deceived medical and vocational providers and falsely completed official forms so he could take nearly $121,000 in wage replacement payments and more than $6,200 in vocational training benefits from L&I. At the same time, from January 2019 to October 2021, his business, Elk Ridge Custom Homes Inc., was paid more than $370,000 for home improvement and mobile home jobs, according to the news release.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case; the fraud investigation was conducted by L&I.
“Wage replacement checks are intended to provide some financial assistance to seriously injured workers who aren’t working due to their injury,” Randy Littlefield, deputy assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division, said in the news release.
“We do not tolerate double-dippers who try to game the system and cheat to get benefits,” he added.
L&I began investigating Lesieur in spring 2020 after staff discovered he was associated as a principal or owner with several construction businesses in the past, the news release states, citing charging papers.
Lesieur injured his left shoulder shoveling asphalt while working on a road crew for several months in 2018. Medical and vocational providers determined he was unable to resume similar work. Those assessments and Lesieur’s declarations on L&I forms that he wasn’t working made him eligible to receive wage replacement payments starting in January 2019, according to L&I.
However, six weeks after filing the L&I injury claim, Lesieur signed a contract for Elk Ridge to do consumer construction projects for a national home improvement and building materials chain, the news release states, citing charging papers.
Investigators interviewed more than 15 customers, mostly in the Portland and Clark County areas, who said Lesieur provided them bids or home remodeling services on behalf of the national chain in 2019 and 2020. During the same time, Lesieur told L&I he was unable to work. The chain paid Elk Ridge more than $216,000 from January 2019 through May 2021, according to the L&I investigation.
During the same period, a separate company paid Elk Ridge more than $155,000 for modifying and retrofitting mobile home foundations, the news release states.
Jessica Prokop: 360-735-4551; firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/JProkop16