U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Court Ordered Restitution of $491,890 After 28 Union Members Pleaded Guilty to Filing False Claims
HAMMOND, IN – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Luka Kljajic - a member of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) - appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon in Indiana and pleaded guilty to embezzlement from the union’s healthcare fund. Kljajic is the 28th member of the IKORCC charged in federal court for submitting false claims to the union’s healthcare fund. To date, the court has ordered $491,890 in restitution to the IKORCC Welfare Fund.
In a written plea agreement entered on July 25, 2018, Kljajic admitted that between 2012 and 2014 he submitted false reimbursement requests for medical expenses. He also admitted to assisting other members in submitting false health claims for reimbursement from the fund and to charging a fee between $100-to-$500 for assisting them with each claim. Per the plea agreement, Kljajic agreed to reimburse the fund $47,397 for fraudulent reimbursements he received. He is scheduled for sentencing on November 19, 2018.
“The Employee Benefits Security Administration will continue to investigate such crimes aggressively on behalf of workers nationwide as part of the Department’s mission to protect the rights of America’s workers,” said EBSA Regional Director Jeffrey A. Monhart, in Chicago.
The federal investigation of the union continues. The State of Indiana recently charged 24 other IKORCC members with theft and forgery after investigators found they received reimbursements for false healthcare claims totaling approximately $419,854 from the union’s welfare fund. Two other cases are pending against union members in the Cincinnati Regional Office jurisdiction of EBSA for fraud totaling $57,980 in the same scheme. Two additional union members from Indiana made reimbursement of $51,045 without charges filed.
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana prosecuted the case. The Department’s Office of Inspector General partnered with EBSA on the criminal investigation.
Employers and workers can reach EBSA toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems related to private sector retirement and health plans. Additional information can be found at https://www.dol.gov/ebsa.