A 45-year-old Bigfork man will have to pay more than $27,000 after fraudulently collecting two years’ worth of workers’ compensation benefits from the Montana State Fund.
David Howke pleaded guilty to criminal theft in Lewis and Clark County District Court on April 12, according to a press release from the Montana Department of Justice. Howke was given a five-year suspended sentence to the Department of Corrections and will be ordered to pay back $27,478 to the state.
According to court documents, Howke filed a claim with the State Fund in 2012 claiming a work-related injury was preventing him from working in his construction job. However, in November 2014, the state received a tip that Howke was indeed working again and was even bragging about playing “36 holes of golf daily,” according to the Department of Justice.
“Workers’ compensation fraud is a drain on Montana businesses, and anytime we can mitigate this deceitful behavior, we’re reducing upward pressure on the costs shouldered by businesses in our state,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “I congratulate my staff at the Department of Justice for a job well done. They should be proud of their work to help Montana businesses.”