Loon Lake woman accused of stealing $11K from L&I
SPOKANE, Wash. — Deborah Steeneck, 59, is accused of faking injuries to get thousands of dollars from Washington state in the form of time loss benefits from the Department of Labor and Industries.
Investigators say Steeneck claimed spine, shoulder and rib injuries were sidelining her from work, so she was getting compensation checks for months — until a former client turned her in.
“It ruins the integrity of the program, it causes the rates to go up for good-paying rate payers out there,” said statewide investigations chief Randy Littlefield.
Littlefield says it’s hard to estimate just how much money has been defrauded from the department, but his 47 investigators typically look into about 3,000 cases statewide each year — about 300, he says, turn out to be criminal cases.
“There’s 47 of us out there doing this, but what we need is everybody’s help. This is not a victimless crime. This hurts everybody,” Littlefield said. “There’s more than we would like, that’s for darn sure. I mean, one person defrauding the system is too much.”
Steeneck’s former client tipped L&I investigators off, sending them a video of her operating a backhoe in his yard, saying it disputed claims she made to the department to get time loss benefits. Court documents say Steeneck earned $20,000 from that remodeling job, in addition to $11,126.23 in compensation checks from L&I.
Steeneck has been charged with first degree theft and faces a maximum of ten years in jail and a $20,000 fine.
You can find L&I’s online fraud tip portal here.
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