SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Dennis Bennett, the owner of Spokane Valley's Cum Inn Bar and Grill is accused of taking over $230,000 in wage replacement and disability benefits from the state and federal government after Washington State Department of Labor and Industries investigators found him working, despite his claims that he couldn't. He had been receiving the payments between 2012-2016.
"Obviously that is a lot of money," said Department of Labor and Industries Regional Program Manager Stephen Moore. "The unfortunate thing is that businesses pay into this as well as workers, and that type of loss raises premiums for all of us that works so hard to pay into it."
Bennett appeared in court on Monday pleading not guilty two his two charges of felony theft.
Investigators say they found out about Bennett after they were at his bar for an unrelated case, they saw him working despite his 24 claims over the four year period that he couldn't and wasn't.
"I think the key factor is that he knew the system so well and was able to deceive so many people for so long," said Moore.
Investigators have four hours of video of Bennett working at his bar, serving, stocking and lifting alcohol containers. Investigators say Bennett spent between 60-70 hours a week at his bar doing tasks that Bennett claims he didn't consider working, but that he would have to pay someone to do if he didn't.
"We take these things very seriously, we take fraud very seriously and we are very actively out there looking for fraud in our system and holding those who commit it accountable," Moore said.
He was also found to have hosted a car show in 2015 and worked for several months at a non-profit.
Bennett's trial will be held in January of 2018.
The Department of Labor and Industries says they will look to recoup the money through both criminal and civil means.
- Thanksgiving travel tips for local flyers
- Holiday deals for the savvy consumer
- New details emerge in Medical Lake High School explicit photo drive
- Travel easier during the busiest holiday weekend in a decade
- Cantwell fights higher park fees
- Padden named ranking member on Senate Law and Justice committee