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Press Release

Former Postal Worker Pleads Guilty To Federal Workers Compensation Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Jessy Paliyath Peter (55, Lakeland) today pleaded guilty to theft of government funds and making a false statement to obtain federal employee's compensation. She faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, the Federal Employees Compensation Act, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (DOL/OWCP), provides compensation benefits to civilian employees of the United States for disabilities due to personal injuries sustained while in the performance of their official duties at the workplace. The DOL/OWCP requires disabled federal employees to complete and submit a Form EN-1032 on an annual basis. The DOL/OWCP uses the information provided by the employee on the form to determine whether the employee is still eligible to receive wage replacement income or if an adjustment in benefits is warranted.

In 2000, Peter, who was then employed as a mail clerk in Polk County, alleged that she had sustained an injury to her back. Later, she made application for and was approved to receive federal employees' compensation benefits.

From 2003 to at least December 2012, Peter worked as a sales representative for Avon, Inc. and earned commissions on her sales. From February 2009 to at least December 2012, Peter exercised regularly at Lifestyle Family Fitness Center for an average of four to five days per week, typically for one to two hours per visit. Surveillance video revealed that she routinely and actively participated in group fitness classes and exercised on weight machines, consistently exceeding her medical restrictions. Two physicians, who had previously examined Peter, viewed the surveillance video and advised that Peter had misrepresented her physical condition to them. The physicians removed all medical restrictions and cleared Peter for full duty employment.

In May 2011, Peter filed a false and fraudulent Form EN-1032. Specifically, she reported that she was not employed; reported no income of any kind; and concealed the true state of her physical health. Peter made these false statements because she did not want her DOL/OWCP wage replacement benefits to be reduced or terminated.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rachelle DesVaux Bedke.

Updated January 26, 2015