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.
Broker Newswire has receive a correspondence from Ms. Durand. Her comments can be found below.
After I was injured on duty, I did everything I was asked, and told, to do..by doctors, supervisors, claims examiners AND DOL! I saw their Dr., who claimed me to be totally disabled. I didn’t ask to have that status, I was there for an evaluation, HE labeled me with it. Yet, when MY Dr. claims I have PTSD, the USPS and DOL deny it, even though they have plenty of evidence to accept that claim. About the same time as this, I filed for Social Security Disability, for PTSD, and was accepted! The first time I filed!
Basically, this files down to the Judge and the Prosecutor, who have been working together for years on fraud cases. I NEVER worked in Montana. The OIG and Federal Prosecutor decided to hold the trial in Great Falls, mainly because my public defender had never been involved in a trial for anything near this! He had to get with a specialist OWCP LAW attorney for a CRASH course on how to handle this. The only reason I was convicted and sentenced was to be an example to other Federal Workers Comp employees who have to be on the Periodic Payroll for so long. For me, 14 years! It seems like they looked through the OWCP rolls and picked the one who had been on the Periodic Roll the longest. Yep, ME!
I know they are wanting to clear the Periodic Roll of Federal Worker’s Comp Recipients. If I had been eligible, I would of been out on Retirement, which takes me from the Federal Payroll to the USPS Payroll (it would of made the OIG happy) where I was injured on duty.
I am not guilty. These charges stem from the fact that I filed for travel mileage reimbursement, all injured workers know and do this. And out of 740 or so dates I submitted, there were 34 that didn’t have a hard paper copy of either a Dr. appt, prescription fill, hospital or clinic visit or several things that are similar. All of the 740 or so ‘vouchers’, except 2, are for legit travel. I had to drive downtown to drop off a prescription script. Or, I to take the paperwork, that DOL sent me to have my Doctor fill out, to my Doctor’s office and ask for them to take extra time out of their busy day to fill out this paper that if it’s not returned to DOL, completed, they will stop my benefits. Or, when I went to the pharmacy, and the prescriptions I had dropped off were not ready, or there was only a partial fill, or the faxed prescriptions ‘never’ were received, or I had to go BACK to the Doctor’s office and pick up a NEW script because there was a discrepancy about the amount, kind, dosage or one of so many other things that can happen over 14 years.
The witnesses, aside from the 10 or so that were there to ‘explain to the court’, didn’t even know who I was! Yes, I lived in a neighborhood, across from a family that we never saw outside of the house, who stated that I jogged every day, at 8am, in PURPLE pants! Yuck! Purple? I have never jogged or ran or attempted to jog or run in my life! I have weak ankles and knees and I just know I would face-plant into the pavement and the ‘road rash’ from heck! The same neighbors claimed my husband and I rode horses every weekend. HA! My husband HATES my horses! He has never ridden a horse since I’ve known him. These witnesses have me mixed up with the little skinny lady that jogged every day and who lived down the street about a half mile or so! The horseback riding couple were our neighbors from WAY down our street! About a mile or so down there! Only one of my horses was broke to ride. So many other mistruths came from them, it was hard to believe! The 2 doctors that testified, one had done my back surgery and the other was the DOL doctor that had given me the disability rating, neither had brought paperwork or records. One doctor stated that he was only there because he had been subpoenaed!
The mystery shopper trip, by kayak, was something I felt I could help others by participating in the cruise ship’s shore excursion and evaluation.
I debated with my husband, my doctors, my physical therapist and myself on whether to participate or not. I only decided the day before to go, even though I had plane tickets in hand. The water was like glass and so beautiful. The 10-12 miles we kayaked in the 3 days wasn’t much different than what I had been doing in physical therapy. I felt I gave the best I could as a mystery shopper, even going out on the second day when I was in a lot of pain. After being in my world of pain and depression, the kayak trip lifted my out of the darkness and I thought I had 3 new friends and an amazing experience.
I told the gal that conducted the interview a few months later about the kayak trip. It had brought my pain level down to a 6, with the help of Morphine Sulfate and Percocet 10-325. That kayak trip was the one highlight of my 12 year cycle of pain and depression, that had had me seeing a psychologist for years.
So, now I have been convicted of those false charges and will be in prison, a medical facility mind you, for 13-15 months. My appeal will take about 18-24 months, so hope of the appeal bringing me home early. I will have to have one of our dogs put down, because I am the only one able to take care of her. I will miss my granddaughters birth. My husband and I have to pack up and leave a wonderful community and church family. My daughter, who has medical conditions herself, will have no one near to call or come to her rescue if she needs it. My husband has to leave his job here and will move closer to wherever I will be placed. I never ever thought the Government would stretch the laws of the land so much just to make a point or example of someone.