An RV salesman who claimed he couldn’t work because of an on-the-job injury has been ordered to pay back more than $81,000 in state disability benefits, according to a news release from the Washington State Dept. of Labor and Industries.
Bobby Ray Johnson, 48, pleaded guilty Thursday to felony first-degree theft in Pierce County Superior Court. Judge Stephanie Arend sentenced the Tacoma-area man to 45 days in jail, but allowed him to serve the time in electronic home monitoring. Arend also ordered Johnson to repay the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for the cash benefits he wrongfully received.
The Washington Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case based on an L&I investigation.
Johnson originally injured his lower back and chest when he fell in an icy parking lot while working at an RV company in Poulsbo. Based on what Johnson told them, physicians confirmed he could not work because of the injury, and L&I eventually began paying Johnson cash benefits to replace part of his wages.
Over a two-year period starting in May 2013, Johnson received $81,453 in workers’ comp payments. To receive the benefits, Johnson regularly signed official forms declaring he did not, and could not, work because of his on-the-job injury, according to charging papers. However, charging papers said, he worked for three employers during that period.
L&I began investigating Johnson when a routine cross-check of state Employment Security Department records revealed that Johnson was receiving workers’ comp benefits while also working stints as a home caregiver in Pierce County and as an RV salesman in Fife.
An investigator filmed Johnson walking, raising his arms and showing trailers to customers at an RV show in the spring of 2015. The investigator overheard Johnson tell a customer he had worked long hours all weekend, selling a “good amount” of trailers, charging papers said.