TRENTON - Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced that a U.S. Postal Service employee from Lower Township has been charged with stealing more than $75,000 in federal workers’ compensation benefits after vacation photos he posted on Facebook allegedly show him zip lining and rock rappelling while purportedly out of work with a wrist injury.
Robert McGeehan, 59, was charged with second-degree theft by deception and third-degree insurance fraud in an indictment handed up by a grand jury in Trenton, according to a release.
According to the indictment, between July 2015 and June 2017, McGeehan obtained more than $75,000 from the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) by falsely claiming an on-the-job fall in 2008 rendered him medically unfit to perform his duties as a letter carrier.
But according to prosecutors, in July 2015, McGeehan posted photos on Facebook showing him zip lining and rappelling while on vacation, and in June and July of 2016, USPS investigators recorded McGeehan outside his home doing strenuous yard work, including using a chain saw and a hand saw, and throwing large logs.
“This defendant claims he is physically unfit to return to work, even on light duty, but he’s allegedly out there engaging in strenuous physical activities, including outdoor recreation,” stated Attorney General Porrino. “Workers’ compensation is meant to provide financial assistance to those who are legitimately unable to work, not provide able-bodied employees with paid time off to enjoy themselves.”
“Those who unlawfully collect workers’ compensation benefits undermine the integrity of the government assistance program and cause funds to be diverted from people who truly need them," stated Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. “The indictment of this postal worker sends a message that workers’ compensation fraud is a serious crime with serious consequences.”
According to prosecutors, McGeehan, who lived and worked in the Philadelphia area until moving to New Jersey in April 2013, injured his right wrist in an icy fall while delivering mail in February 2008. He has not returned to his mail carrier position since.
In September 2008, McGeehan underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn cartilage in his wrist. Although medical assessments ordered by the USPS in 2009, 2010, and 2012 deemed him fit to return to work on light duty, McGeehan refuted those findings and turned down several offers of less physically-demanding positions within the USPS, prosecutors allege. To corroborate his workers’ compensation claim, McGheehan has consistently submitted examination findings by his personal doctor.
According to prosecutors, evidence showing McGeehan has been falsely claiming to have a debilitating injury to his right wrist began in July 2015.
While on vacation, McGeehan allegedly left an electronic signature on an agreement to accept risks and waive liabilities for certain activities, including “zip lines, rope swings, cargo net traverses, mechanical rappels, and climbing.”
The document that contains the waiver of liability, under medical concerns, specifically states that “the programs are designed for use by participants of average mobility and strength who are in reasonably good health. Obesity, high blood pressure, cardiac and coronary artery disease, pulmonary problems, arthritis, tendonitis, and other joint and musculo-skeletal problems may all impair the safety and well-being of participants.”
Two days after signing the waiver, McGeehan posted pictures of himself rappelling and zip lining, prosecutors allege.
The case was referred to OIFP by the USPS.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Clore presented the case to the grand jury. Detectives Justin Callahan, Ronald Allen, James Mahady, and Investigator Marwa Kashef coordinated the investigation.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Iu noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the website at www.NJInsurancefraud.org.
State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.