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Yelm Man Pleads Guilty After Blaming Injuries Sustained in Barroom Fight on Workplace

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By Nisqually Valley News staff

A Yelm man who tried to pass off injuries he sustained during a barroom fight as a workplace accident pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Aug. 25 to third-degree theft, a gross misdemeanor offense. 

Chuck Wayne Riccio, 40, was ordered by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Sharonda Amamilo to reimburse Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for his medical care fees as well as court costs, stated a news release from L&I. 

L&I previously investigated Riccio’s claim, which resulted in the charge against him.

The fraudulent claim was filed in October 2018, and stated Riccio suffered a right-hand injury during the course of his work as a bathtub and shower manufacturer, according to the release.  L&I was contacted by an acquaintance of Riccio, who told the department the injury occured during a bar fight in August 2018, according to charging papers.

The reporting party submitted a text from Riccio to L&I that was sent while he was at a clinic for an injury, around the same time the L&I claim was filed. 

“I kinda said it happened at work,” the text stated, detailing what he told the clinic about the injury. 

Riccio went on to text photos to the acquaintance that contained himself holding a bandaged hand along with an L&I form, including the words, “now L&I will cover it.”

Coworkers disputed Riccio’s claim of a workplace injury, stated the release. 

Chris Bowe, L&I’s assistant director of fraud prevention and labor standards, said the case “was a flagrant example of someone trying to cheat the workers’ compensation system.” Bowe went on to say the department takes every fraud case seriously, and takes “action when we catch cheaters.”

According to the release, a man who said he was punched by Riccio at a bar in Yelm and several of Riccio’s coworkers were interviewed by L&I investigators. 

The case was prosecuted by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office based on L&I’s investigation, stated the release. 

Riccio will have the opportunity to ask the court to change his plea and have the case dismissed as long as he follows the conditions of his sentence for one year and is not convicted of any other crimes during that timeframe.

L&I administers the state workers’ compensation insurance system.

Those wishing to report fraud should contact L&I online at lni.wa.gov/fraud or by calling 1-888-811-5974.

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