Former Washington Logger Charged in Nearly $300K Workers’ Comp Scam

June 7, 2021

A Cowlitz County, Wash., man stands accused of faking injuries to collect nearly $300,000 in workers’ compensation benefits.

James Joseph Thomasson, 52, of Kalama, was arraigned in Thurston County Superior Court on one count of felony first-degree theft.

Thomasson is accused of falsely claiming that his on-the-job injuries were so severe that he couldn’t work, enabling him to receive workers’ comp benefits for nearly four years.

A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries investigation reportedly produced video of Thomasson dancing, walking normally, and performing various physical activities — but limping near a medical clinic and at times when he thought he was being watched, according to charging documents.

L&I launched the investigation in 2019 after receiving an anonymous tip that Thomasson was misrepresenting his injuries and working as a beekeeper.

Thomasson was reportedly injured while working as a logger in the fall of 2006. He was struck in the leg by a tree, suffering bruises and abrasions. A year later, he claimed he hurt his back while using a wedge to fell a tree in Shelton.

His medical provider reportedly told L&I that Thomasson could not work due to the workplace injuries. As a result, he was eligible to receive payments for part of his lost wages.

He allegedly collected more than $249,000 in wage replacement payments and nearly $50,000 in vocational and medical benefits from March 2016 through January 2020.

First-degree felony theft carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, plus restitution.

L&I administers the state workers’ comp insurance system. The Washington State Office of the Attorney General is prosecuting the case.