Former Montana Postal Employee Convicted for Fraudulently Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits

GREAT FALLS – 8/25/17 – The United States Attorney’s Office announced a federal court convicted Deborah Joy Durand of False Statements to Obtain Federal Employees’ Compensation Benefits, Wire Fraud, False Claims Relating to Workers’ Compensation Benefits, and Theft of Government Property. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided over the 3-day trial.

At trial, the government presented evidence that 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. Instead of returning to work when capable, Durand lied to her doctors, embellished her symptoms, and ultimately obtained total disability. Agents from the Post Office conducted surveillance and saw 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.

All total, Durand received over $693,403.63 based on her claims for workers’ compensation. Of that amount, she received $268, 892.18 for wages, despite having the ability to work at least a desk job at the Post Office.

In order to further prove the case, undercover federal agents called Durand and told her she won a free kayaking trip. During the ruse kayaking trip, Durand paddled approximately 30 miles in open ocean water over a three-day period. During the trip, Durand hiked, lifted heavy objects, and karate-kicked and judo-chopped an object held by an undercover federal agent. All of these activities were captured on video.

Two months after the kayaking trip, agents conducted a follow-up appointment with Durand to identify if she could work for the Post Office. Durand had no idea that the appointment was an undercover operation. During the interview, 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.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General. Executive Special Agent in Charge Joanne Yarbrough 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 in this case is 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.”

Sentencing is set for November 30, 2017, at 1:30 p.m., at the Missouri River Courthouse, in Great Falls, Montana.

One Response to "Former Montana Postal Employee Convicted for Fraudulently Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits"

  1. Debbie Durand   December 4, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    After I was injured on duty, I did everything I was asked, and told, to do..by 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!
    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 no 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.