Preston Woman Charged with Workers' Compensation Fraud, Larceny
A Preston woman was arrested today and charged with illegally collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits while being employed as a state correctional head nurse.
JoAnn Awezec, age 64, of 55 Branch Hill Road, Preston, was arrested by Inspectors from the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Control Bureau in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney on a warrant charging her with one count of Fraudulent Claim or Receipt of Benefits and one count of Larceny in The First Degree by Defrauding a Public Community.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, in February of 2019, while working for the state Department of Correction, Awezec was injured while responding to an emergency at the Hartford Correctional Center. Awezec claimed she sustained injuries to her shoulder and hip.
Awezec was placed on Temporary Total Disability (TTD) by the Department of Administrative Services through Gallagher-Bassett, the third-party administrator of the state’s Workers’ Compensation program. TTD benefits are wage replacement monies for those who qualify under the program. During that period of benefits, the recipient is considered to have zero work capacity and must inform the state of any improvements in their injuries. They also are required to report any income beyond the benefits provided by the state.
From February 27, 2019 through May 9, 2019, Awezec received workers’ compensation benefits in the amount of $16,695.14. During that period of time, she also was the owner and operator of Branch Hill Bakery, a home based bakery business in Preston. Awezec never disclosed these facts to the state and denied she was working while collecting benefits. Surveillance videos and document examination ran counter to Awezec’s claims.
Awezec was released on a $10,000 non-surety bond and is scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court, G.A. No. 14, on June 8, 2021.
The case will be prosecuted by the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Control Bureau of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney in Rocky Hill. The charges are merely accusations and she is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.