Pretending to inflict injury on workers costs Washington Logger $160,000, in custody
A Cowlitz County, Washington logger who allegedly faked injuries to collect workers’ compensation benefits has been ordered to repay the state more than $160,000.
James Joseph Thomasson, 53, was also sentenced to serve 60 days of house arrest, the maximum under state sentencing guidelines.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Allyson Zipp recently sentenced Thomasson after pleading guilty to second-degree larceny, a felony.
Thomasson admitted to stealing workers’ benefits from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, which administers the state’s workers’ compensation system, from January 2018 to January 2020. He must repay $163,566 at L&I.
Thomasson was allegedly struck in the leg by a tree, suffering bruises and abrasions while working as a logger in the fall of 2006. A year later, he allegedly claimed to have injured his back while using a wedge to chop down a tree in Shelton.
His doctor told L&I that Thomasson could not work due to work injuries, which made him eligible to receive payments for part of his lost wages. After receiving an anonymous tip, investigators allegedly caught Thomasson in 2019 performing numerous physical activities inconsistent with his medically prescribed restrictions. They recorded him speeding up a hill while talking on a cellphone, found a clip on social media of him dancing as he quickly moved his hips from side to side and saw him lifting several times a heavy tool above his head.
In early 2020, L&I investigators showed surveillance video to his medical provider, who later determined that Thomasson intentionally misrepresented his physical abilities and was in fact able to work in March 2016, according to court documents.
The supplier concluded that Thomasson had “engaged in a well-executed intentional underperformance” of his abilities.
At Thomasson’s recent hearing, Judge Zipp granted his request to begin house arrest until 90 days after sentencing to be available for fire season work this summer.
L&I investigated the case, which was prosecuted by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
Workers Compensation Washington
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