Jul 23, 2015 2:18 PM by News Staff
A former private security officer was convicted Tuesday on five felony counts of Workers’ Compensation fraud stemming from an “accident” in 2009.
Howard William Neel, 59, of Oroville, was working as a private security officer for a local security company in December 2009 when another driver slightly backed into his Crown Victoria at a gas station as he pumped fuel.
Neel said he was knocked down as a result of the collision and claimed extensive back, neck and leg pain. He was treated at Enloe Medical Center and was taken off work.
In subsequent medical appointments, Neel told doctors the impact to his vehicle at the gas station had been so severe that his vehicle was “spun around”, knocking him down.
Investigators obtained surveillance tape from the gas station and found the collision to be minor. The video showed Neel walking normally after the crash, but he started limping when the other party involved saw him. When that individual left, Neel started walking normally again.
Neel was seen by several doctors and repeatedly denied any back, neck or leg injuries prior to the December 2009 “accident”. However, investigators found Neel suffered the same type of back injury while lifting boxes 10 years prior, which was also treated under the worker’s compensation system.
Additionally, Neel used a crane when he went to doctors’ offices, but undercover surveillance tapes showed him without any cane when working around his house or with his horses.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey said it was important to take Neel to a felony jury trial to demonstrate that workers’ compensation fraud is considered a fraud upon the entire community. “Honest workers and hard-working employers are all cheated when fraudsters like Neel lie and cause workers’ compensation rates to go up. We take such fraud very seriously here in Butte County and will vigorously prosecute it.”
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