On Friday, August 25, 2017, the United States Attorney’s Office announced that a former postal employee had been convicted of False Statements to Obtain Federal Employees’ Compensation Benefits, wire fraud, False Claims Relating to Workers’ Compensation Benefits and theft of government property. Deborah Joy Durand was found guilty after a 3-day trial.
During the course of the trial, it was revealed that Durand sustained a back injury while working at the Post Office. She had surgery and was unable to return to work for a period of time. After recovering, Durand lied to doctors and overexaggerated her injuries, so she could avoid returning to work. In return, Durand eventually obtained total disability.
Eventually, agents with the Post Office initiated an investigation and surveilled the defendant. During their investigation, they observed Durand feeding horses, jogging, clearing land, lifting hay bales, running chainsaws, and performing many more physically challenging tasks. Based on her claims for workers’ compensation, Durand received more than $693,403.63. Despite having the ability to work at the Post Office, Durand received $268,892.18 for wages.
Agents also put a scheme into place to further prove their case. Agents called Durand and claimed she had won a free kayaking trip. Durand accepted and paddled roughly 30 miles in open ocean over a period of three days. Throughout the trip, Durand hiked, practiced judo and Karate, and lifted heavy objects. All activities were captured on video.
Two months later, Durand was confronted by federal agents for a follow-up. During the interview, Durand told authorities she was unable to sit or stand for long and was “totally sedentary”. She also claimed to be unable to work in any capacity. Now that Durand has been found guilty, she will be sentenced at the Missouri River Courthouse in Great Falls. Her sentencing is scheduled for November 30, 2017.