A California bar owner injured 26 years ago on a civilian job for the U.S. Navy has pleaded guilty to lying to obtain federal workers’ compensation benefits.
According to his plea agreement, Bruce Lee Cearlock, 78, of Auburn, has been fraudulently declaring he was neither self-employed nor engaged in any business enterprise in paperwork filed since 2006 to remain eligible for workers’ comp benefits. The declaration, required by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program, was made under penalty of perjury.
In fact, according to the U.S. Attorneys office in Sacramento, Cearlock owned and participated in the management of “Fuse,” a San Francisco bar, while he continued to illegally receive payments under the Federal Employees Compensation Act.
Four government agencies were involved in the investigation, including the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jean Hobler and Kyle Reardon are prosecuting the case.
Cearlock committed perjury when he continued to receive federal disability benefits while operating the bar between 1999 and 2011 and dealing with private citizens and public officials representing himself as the owner of Fuse, according to court documents.
In addition, the documents show Cearlock was listed as president and secretary of Alleycorp Inc., a privately held corporation owning the bar. Cearlock and his wife equally owned shares in the corporation.
Cearlock is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in December. While sentencing is at the discretion of the court, he could face up the three years’ supervised release and a maximum statutory penalty of $250,000 for each false statement to obtain federal employee’s compensation.
Ormond Beach attorneys Johnson & Gilbert, P.A. praise the diligence of all agencies working to uncover fraud in Florida and national workers’ compensation programs. They cite the importance of careful preparation of claims and note experienced counsel can be helpful. If you’ve been injured at work and if you are preparing a claim, call their Florida workers’ comp lawyers at 386.673.4412 or toll-free at 800.556.8890 for a free consultation.