12/03/2017: "SJC Kayak Trip Helps Convict Montana Postal Worker Of Workers Comp Fraud"
When Montana resident Deborah Joy Durand learned she had won a “free kayaking trip” in the San Juan Islands she had no idea it would be the final evidence in an ongoing case against her by the United States Attorney’s Office, a case that would lead to her being convicted of False Statements to Obtain Federal Employees’ Compensation Benefits, Wire Fraud, False Claims Relating to Workers’ Compensation Benefits of nearly $700,000.00, and Theft of Government Property.
Evidence was submitted at her trial that indicated that while she had in fact suffered a back injury working at the Post Office that lead to back surgery and time off work for a period of time, Durand had lied and embellished her symptoms to receive full disability.
Agents from the Post Office started surveillance and saw that “Durand was feeding horses, lifting hay bales, jogging in the mornings, clearing land, running chainsaws, removing stumps from fallen trees, building fences, mowing the lawn every week, riding horses twice a week, and many other physically challenging activities.”
And then someone had the idea of calling her up and informed her she was the winner of a kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands.
Durand fell for the trick and agents stated she paddled approximately 30 miles in open ocean water over a three-day period, hiked, lifted heavy objects, and karate-kicked and judo-chopped an object held by an undercover federal agent.
All of the activities recorded on video; which would seem to indicate the agents were also on an all expense paid trip to the San Juan Islands -good duty if you can get it.
Two months after the kayaking trip, agents conducted a follow-up appointment with Durand to identify if she could work for the Post Office. Durand had no idea that the appointment was an undercover operation. During the interview, Durand claimed she could not sit or stand for long, and she was “totally sedentary.” She even claimed she was unable to work in any capacity.
Durand was indicted and has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for each of the four counts, with each count running concurrently; and she now owes the government $903,316 in restitution and forfeiture.