September 18, 2012

State employee convicted of bilking workers' comp system

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- A state worker was convicted Tuesday of stealing workers' compensation benefits during a six-month period last year.

Clinton J. Ashby III, 47, of Pembroke, had been a bridge maintenance engineer for the Department of Transportation when he became disabled and started collecting benefits.

Investigators looking into possible fraud took surveillance videos, which were played for jurors during the two-day trial in Kennebec County Superior Court, showing Ashby swinging a sledge hammer, using a crow bar and running heavy equipment during the time he was receiving benefits because he was reportedly too disabled to work.

The judge indicated Ashby's sentencing would be next week, according to the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin.

The maximum penalty for the class C felony is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Defense attorney Walter McKee, who represented Ashby, said, "We were supremely disappointed with the verdict."

Ashby was indicted on a charge of theft by deception in February and accused of stealing more than $15,000 in workers' compensation benefits between May and November 2011. The jury convicted him of stealing between $1,000 and $10,000 in benefits.

"We are pleased that the jury held Clinton Ashby accountable for his crime," Robbin said.

"He engaged in the theft of workers' compensation benefits by being dishonest with his doctors and his employer about his ability to work as a DOT supervisor when the evidence showed that he was in fact engaging in vigorous physical labor on his own home construction project.

"We will work with employers and insurers to prosecute workers' compensation fraud, so that compensation is reserved for the persons that it was intended to benefit -- injured employees who cannot work due to job-related injuries."

At the trial, Tammy Desjardin, a workers' compensation case manager for the state, testified that Ashby received about $630 a week in benefits.

Ashby did not testify at the trial.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

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