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Worker claims disabled, allegedly caught fishing in Pennsylvania

October 16, 2018, Bucks, PA — Prosecutors say Bucks County corrections officer Carl Stokes received workers’ compensation benefits while working as a fishing guide.

On a Tuesday morning in June, three men embarked on a small motorboat for a five-hour fishing trip along the Susquehanna River.

The two who paid $240 for the excursion, court documents revealed, were actually police officers working undercover; their guide was a Bucks County corrections officer out of work on disability and receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Now Carl Wayne Stokes, 51, of Bridgeton, faces felony charges of workers’ compensation fraud, insurance fraud and related offenses, court records show.

He was arraigned before District Judge Gary Gambardella on Tuesday and was released on $100,000 unsecured bail.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, during the fishing trip, Stokes moved around the boat “without restriction,” assisted the officers and joined them in fishing. Police said Stokes had moved the boat into the water prior to their arrival.

The affidavit also noted multiple pictures posted to Facebook which show Stokes working as a licensed fishing guide for Reel River Adventures, based in Walnutport, Northampton County.

Stokes, according to authorities, reported in workers’ compensation forms completed on May 1 that he had not been employed or self-employed while receiving compensation benefits. He also stated his physical condition caused by a work injury was unchanged and required permanent restrictions.

Bucks County detectives later visited Stokes who claimed an attorney advised him he was allowed to claim to be unemployed because he was not making money from the fishing trips, only being compensated for gas and equipment, the affidavit said.

Investigators spoke to an attorney who told them a previous workers’ compensation claim filed by Stokes had been suspended “due to many postings on Facebook showing him involved in activities which were contradictory to his medical limitations,” according to the affidavit.

Stokes’s attorney Dean Malik, speaking from his office in Doylestown Borough on Tuesday, said his client has “dedicated his life to public service,” noting his time serving in the U.S. Army and Air Force as well as a volunteer firefighter.

Malik produced copies of multiple awards and commendations Stokes received over the years.

“From what I know about the affidavit of probable cause and the complaint, I believe he never had any intent to defraud the county or anybody,” Malik said. “Mr. Stokes maintains his innocence to these offenses. We’d like to show more information to prosecutors to make them understand the full extent of the picture. We believe that the charges are ill-founded. But if there’s not a possibility of working it out then we will fight the charges.”

As a condition of his bail, Stokes is prohibited from working in any law enforcement capacity including as a corrections officer or constable, court records show.

A report from this news organization on the wages of government workers shows Stokes was earning $39,361 as a corrections officer.

Source: Bucks County Courier Times

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