After a two-day trial, a Helena jury Wednesday convicted a Ronan man of two felony counts of theft of worker’s compensation benefits provided by the Montana State Fund.
Perry Joseph Penfield, 34, was employed at his parents’ business, Polson Paint and Glass, in April 2008 when he fell into a window well and injured his right knee, according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors with the Montana attorney general’s office.
Penfield began receiving $777.86 in bi-weekly temporary total disability benefits from Montana State Fund, but investigators from the Montana Department of Justice and Montana State Fund discovered that Penfield had established his own paint and siding company and was earning money while continuing to receive wage loss benefits, prosecutors said.
He received more than $14,000 in unauthorized payments, the state said.
The 12-person jury returned a verdict after about an hour of deliberation.
Penfield faces a possible penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on each count, plus possible restitution for the stolen funds.
“Montana’s business owners pay their insurance premiums expecting that every dollar will be used to help their injured employees get back on their feet,” Attorney General Tim Fox said in a statement. “We’ll continue to keep a vigilant eye out for fraud in order to ensure that funds are available to help those who truly need it.”
District Judge Kathy Seeley set sentencing for April 11.