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Judge to ex-postal worker who raced while on disability: ‘This is fraud’

Published: Friday, April 26, 2019 @ 1:30 PM

Dayton-area postal worker on disability rode in 35 motorcycle races

The ex-Dayton U.S. Postal Service letter carrier who competed in 35 motorcycle races while receiving nearly $94,000 in worker’s compensation benefits was sentenced Friday in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

Jerry French, 41, was ordered to serve four years’ probation and pay restitution of $20,000 to the Postal Service Accounts Center with at least $200 per month. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose also said French is prohibited from owning weapons.

“At the very least, this is a very, very, very bad mistake on your part,” Rose told French. “There needs to be restitution made in this matter. The public needs to be protected from this. This is fraud.”

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French, who worked at the Dayton View Post Office on Salem Avenue, could have faced up to five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

“The sheer numbers makes it easy to hide (fraud) in the weeds,” prosecutor Ronald Cummings of the Office of Inspector General told Rose. “Mr. French took advantage of that.”

Cummings said this type of fraud is “huge.”

The Office of Inspector General’s Semiannual Report to Congress for the six months ending Sept. 30, 2018, showed reports questioning $5.2 million in costs. In that same time frame, OIG’s work resulted in 209 indictments, 129 convictions and more than $50.5 million in monetary accomplishments.

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French pleaded guilty late last year to Count 2 of the indictment — making false statements on a form after telling two doctors about his injuries stemming from a Feb. 2, 2011, fall on ice.

About two weeks later, French filed a form for continuation of pay or compensation, according to court documents. In April 2011, the Dept. of Labor accepted the claim of a left knee sprain. In August 20111, a doctor reported French said he couldn’t perform his duties.

In September 2011, another doctor said French reported his pain as 8 out of 10 and that the pain was 24/7. “Jerry French represented that he could only sit and play video games, could not do household chores and could only ambulate with crutches.”

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The doctor said that due to French’s representations, he ordered “zero hours lifting weights, walking, climbing, kneeling, bending and stooping and operating machinery.” The doctor also limited French’s driving and standing to “no more than one hour.”

The statement of facts attached to French’s plea said that “from May 13, 2011, to Oct. 23, 2013, agents of the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General observed defendant Jerry French participate in approximately 35 motorcycle races and one car race at various racetracks in Ohio and Indiana,” such as at Kil-Kare Speedway and in Muncie, Ind.

“During the same period, agents saw him exceed his stated physical restrictions while loading trailers, carrying equipment and moving metal tanks.”

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Cummings said French raced a Suzuki Hayabusa and once raced in a Dodge Challenger.

Cummings said an anonymous tip and data analytics of how long employees should be out with certain injuries played a part in the investigation. Cummings said prosecution took longer than usual and that French worked for the post office until 2018.

“I haven’t done anything the rest of my life,” French told Rose. “I just made a mistake.”

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