Postal Worker Sentenced to Prison and Ordered to Pay Almost $1.0 Million in Workers Comp Case

GREAT FALLS – The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that Deborah Joy Durand, a 55-year-old resident of Fruitland, Idaho, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $903,316.48 in restitution and forfeiture. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris Morris presided over the sentencing hearing.

At trial, the government presented the following evidence. Durand had a back injury from her job at the Post Office. She had back surgery and was unable to work for a period of time. But instead of returning to work when capable, Durand obtained total disability status. Special Agents from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General obtained evidence that Durand was feeding horses, lifting hay bales, jogging in the mornings, clearing land, running chainsaws, removing stumps from fallen trees, building fences, mowing the lawn every week, riding horses twice a week, and many other physically challenging activities.

Durand also participated in other physical activities including a lengthy three-day kayaking trip where she paddled approximately 30 miles in open ocean water, among other strenuous physical activities. Durand claimed she could not sit or stand for long, and she was “totally sedentary.” She even claimed she was unable to work in any capacity.

At trial, Durand was convicted of four counts of fraud related to obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. In total, Durand received over $664,828.16 based on her claims for workers’ compensation. Of that amount, she received $238,488.32 for wages, despite having the ability to work at least a desk job at the Post Office.

U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme stated, “The Federal Worker’s Compensation Program is there to help the truly injured. The public should be assured that individuals who defraud that Program in Montana will be held accountable. I applaud the efforts of the USPS Office of Inspector General and Ryan Weldon of our office in bringing this case to justice.”

This case was investigated by the USPS Office of Inspector General. Acting Executive Special Agent-in-Charge Jeff Krafels said, “The majority of Postal Service employees are dedicated, hardworking, and trustworthy professionals who would never consider engaging in criminal conduct. However, when attempts to defraud the Federal Workers’ Compensation Program arise, those acts will not be tolerated, and they will be vigorously investigated by the USPS Office of Inspector General. The Workers’ Compensation Program is designed to ensure that individuals injured during the performance of their duties receive appropriate medical care and compensation. The conviction and sentence in this case are a result of the commitment between the United States Attorney’s Office and the USPS Office of Inspector General, to ensure the integrity of the Federal Workers’ Compensation Program, and to hold those accountable for defrauding the program.”

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the truth in sentencing guidelines mandate that Durand will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Durand does have the opportunity to shorten the term of custody by earning credit for good behavior. However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

  • Debbie Durand

    Yes, I have had my DAYS in court, with a poorly prepared Public Defender and a judge and prosecutor who have perfected their attack over several years working together.
    After I was injured on duty, I did everything I was asked, and told, to doctors, supervisors, claims examiners AND DOL! I saw their Dr., who claimed me to be totally disabled. I didn’t ask to have that status, I was there for an evaluation, HE labeled me with it. Yet, when MY Dr. claims I have PTSD, the USPS and DOL deny it, even though they have plenty of evidence to accept that claim. About the same time as this, I filed for Social Security Disability, for PTSD, and was accepted! The first time I filed!
    Basically, this files down to the Judge and the Prosecutor, who have been working together for years on fraud cases. I NEVER worked in Montana. The OIG and Federal Prosecutor decided to hold the trial in Great Falls, mainly because my public defender had never been involved in a trial for anything near this! He had to get with a specialist OWCP LAW attorney for a CRASH course on how to handle this. The only reason I was convicted and sentenced was to be an example to other Federal Workers Comp employees who have to be on the Periodic Payroll for so long. For me, 14 years! It seems like they looked through the OWCP rolls and picked the one who had been on the Periodic Roll the longest. Yep, ME!
    I know they are wanting to clear the Periodic Roll of Federal Worker’s Comp Recipients. If I had been eligible, I would of been out on Retirement, which takes me from the Federal Payroll to the USPS Payroll (it would of made the OIG happy) where I was injured on duty.
    I am not guilty. These charges stem from the fact that I filed for travel mileage reimbursement, all injured workers know and do this. And out of 740 or so dates I submitted, there were 34 that didn’t have a hard paper copy of either a Dr. appt, prescription fill, hospital or clinic visit or several things that are similar. All of the 740 or so ‘vouchers’, except 2, are for legit travel. I had to drive downtown to drop off a prescription script. Or, I to take the paperwork, that DOL sent me to have my Doctor fill out, to my Doctor’s office and ask for them to take extra time out of their busy day to fill out this paper that if it’s not returned to DOL, completed, they will stop my benefits. Or, when I went to the pharmacy, and the prescriptions I had dropped off were not ready, or there was only a partial fill, or the faxed prescriptions ‘never’ were received, or I had to go BACK to the Doctor’s office and pick up a NEW script because there was a discrepancy about the amount, kind, dosage or one of so many other things that can happen over 14 years.
    The witnesses, aside from the 10 or so that were there to ‘explain to the court’, didn’t even know who I was! Yes, I lived in a neighborhood, across from a family that we never saw outside of the house, who stated that I jogged every day, at 8am, in PURPLE pants! Yuck! Purple? I have never jogged or ran or attempted to jog or run in my life! I have weak ankles and knees and I just know I would face-plant into the pavement and the ‘road rash’ from heck! The same neighbors claimed my husband and I rode horses every weekend. HA! My husband HATES my horses! He has never ridden a horse since I’ve known him. These witnesses have me mixed up with the little skinny lady that jogged every day and who lived down the street about a half mile or so! The horseback riding couple were our neighbors from WAY down our street! About a mile or so down there! Only one of my horses was broke to ride. So many other mistruths came from them, it was hard to believe! The 2 doctors that testified, one had done my back surgery and the other was the DOL doctor that had given me the disability rating, neither had brought paperwork or records. One doctor stated that he was only there because he had been subpoenaed!
    The mystery shopper trip, by kayak, was something I felt I could help others by participating in the cruise ship’s shore excursion and evaluation.
    I debated with my husband, my doctors, my physical therapist and myself on whether to participate or not. I only decided the day before to go, even though I had plane tickets in hand. The water was like glass and so beautiful. The 10-12 miles we kayaked in the 3 days wasn’t much different than what I had been doing in physical therapy. I felt I gave the best I could as a mystery shopper, even going out on the second day when I was in a lot of pain. After being in my world of pain and depression, the kayak trip lifted my out of the darkness and I thought I had 3 new friends and an amazing experience.
    I told the gal that conducted the interview a few months later about the kayak trip. It had brought my pain level down to a 6, with the help of Morphine Sulfate and Percocet 10-325. That kayak trip was the one highlight of my 12 year cycle of pain and depression, that had had me seeing a psychologist for years.
    So, now I have been convicted of those false charges and will be in prison, a medical facility mind you, for 13-15 months. My appeal will take about 18-24 months, so hope of the appeal bringing me home early. I will have to have one of our dogs put down, because I am the only one able to take care of her. I will miss my granddaughters birth. My husband and I have to pack up and leave a wonderful community and church family. My daughter, who has medical conditions herself, will have no one near to call or come to her rescue if she needs it. My husband has to leave his job here and will move closer to wherever I will be placed. I never ever thought the Government would stretch the laws of the land so much just to make a point or example of someone.

  • JG4

    Good news!