In these penny-pinching times, there may be nothing more noble than the weary worker who pulls down two paychecks to make ends meet. The problem for Duane Funtash was that he was forbidden to work at all.
The Painesville resident was receiving total disability benefits for a workplace injury when rumors he’d been moonlighting first surfaced with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation in 2009.
Instead of just couch surfing with the Kardashians, Funtash was running operations for his wife’s catering company. Over 14 months, he was monitored by the bureau’s Special Investigations Department (motto: “Ensuring Ohioans don’t work since 1921”). Videos show him dressed in white caterer’s garb, making business deals, and handling water buckets and other gear — labor more suitable for folks not drawing a state paycheck for being broken of body.
“He was working, and he wasn’t supposed to be working at all,” the bureau’s Melissa Vince tells Scene.
Last month, Funtash pleaded guilty to a felony count of workers comp fraud. His punishment includes two years of community probation, plus a blow to the wallet: $67,340 in restitution and $9,470 in investigative costs.
Meantime, business has slowed for the family catering firm, where the phone has joined the ranks of the non-working.