Woman arrested in alleged $25,000 workers’ compensation fraud
A Grand Junction woman collected more than $25,000 in workers’ compensation payouts after making alleged fraudulent claims about how she hurt her ankle, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Michelle McKee, 42, was ordered held Thursday at the Mesa County Jail on suspicion of felony counts of theft, making false statements and forgery. She was arrested at her home Wednesday by Grand Junction police, the day after District Judge Brian Flynn signed a warrant for McKee’s arrest and authorized a $100,000 bond.
A former housekeeper at a local hotel, McKee claimed she fell when trying on a pair of shoes she had found at the hotel’s “lost and found” repository on April 17, 2009, according to the affidavit. A doctor assessed the injury as a minor sprain and gave her an air cast.
She didn’t report the injury until May 18, a doctor on May 21 recommended surgery after tests revealed further damage to the ankle, and the surgery happened June 15, the affidavit said.
McKee began receiving temporary partial disability and wage replacement benefits from Pinnacol Assurance, and to date she has received $25,509, the affidavit said.
It wasn’t until August when investigators with Pinnacol Assurance started looking into McKee’s story, after being tipped that she had “been bragging that she had fooled the insurance company into paying for her injury and that it was not work-related,” the affidavit said.
McKee’s work supervisor said McKee repeatedly told her in April or May the injury wasn’t work-related, but later said she tripped over linens while on the job. Despite the conflicting accounts, the claim went forward.
The supervisor said, “It’s her employer’s policy to file a claim when the injured worker reports it to be work-related, despite any concerns, and then later advise of possible fraud to Pinnocal Assurance.”
Another hotel worker said McKee in April or May said she “had got really drunk and fell on a curb.”
McKee initially claimed her on-the-job fall was witnessed by another woman, who, when interviewed by an investigator, denied seeing anything. The same woman said McKee told her she hurt her ankle while walking into a nightclub on April 16, the day before McKee insisted she hurt herself on the job, the affidavit said.
McKee’s supervisor told an investigator with the Colorado Attorney General’s office that McKee’s personal health insurance was at its “lowest level” at the time of her injury, covering about $1,500 and leaving the rest for her to pay.