Heath D. Shelton of Smithton, Illinois, has pleaded guilty to a single-count information charging him with making a false statement to obtain federal disability compensation under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.
According to court documents, Shelton, 36, started receiving federal disability payments in 2012 after injuring his back as a letter carrier with the United States Postal Service. In late 2019, he began working on a part-time basis at Complete Family Chiropractic & Wellness, his fiancé’s clinic located in Freeburg, Illinois. Shelton’s disability forms required him to disclose this side job so that his earning potential and overall compensation could be adjusted. But, in an effort to avoid a reduction of his benefits, Shelton failed to disclose his work at the clinic and falsely reported that he had not worked or had any involvement in any business enterprise during the relevant time period. As a result of his plea, Shelton will lose all disability benefits going forward.
Special Agent-in-Charge Andre Martin, Great Lakes Area Field Office, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General said, “The U.S. Postal Service paid $1.3 billion in workers’ compensation costs in fiscal year 2020. The majority of postal employees who collect compensation benefits have legitimate claims due to on-the-job injuries and are truly unable to perform any postal jobs.
However, a small percent abuse the system and cost the Postal Service millions of dollars in fraudulent claims and enforcement costs. This guilty plea sends a clear message that workers’ compensation fraud is a federal crime, which carries serious consequences. The USPS OIG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office remain committed to safeguarding the integrity of the workers’ compensation program and ensuring the accountability and integrity of U.S. Postal Service employees.”
Sentencing will be held at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis, Illinois, on a date to be determined. In addition to losing his disability benefits, Shelton could also receive up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke J. Weissler.