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A Columbia Falls man will pay nearly $46,000 in restitution to the Montana State Fund as part of his sentence for filing a fraudulent workers' compensation claim.

Salvador Maldonado-Medina pleaded guilty to charge of felony theft and employer misconduct in Lewis and Clark County District Court last week after illegally receiving workers' compensation benefits.

Maldonado-Medina, 36, defrauded the State Fund by receiving benefits, including wage loss and medical expenses, since 2013, after claiming he was injured at one of his jobs. Investigators found he in fact was injured at another business he owned that did not have workers' compensation insurance for its employees.

He was given concurrent six-year deferred sentences for the two charges and a $2,000 fine, and must pay $45,858.02 in restitution to the State Fund. Montana Assistant Attorney General Mary Cochenour said she expects the state will be able to collect the restitution.

“I think he has the means to work,” she said.

Cochenour said investigations of possible workers' compensation fraud are a large part of her work, and the Attorney General’s Office is diligent in pursuing such cases.

Maldonado-Medina owns two companies in the Flathead Valley – La Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant in Kalispell and SM Roofing in Columbia Falls.

When he filed his workers' compensation claim in February 2013, he said he injured his knee after falling from a ladder at the restaurant, where there was a workers' compensation policy. The State Fund began to pay benefits because Maldonado-Medina said he could not work due to his injuries.

Investigators conducted surveillance on Maldonado-Medina's roofing business to see if he was making money while collecting benefits. While he told the State Fund he and his employees had no roofing jobs, the investigators found he bought $45,000 in supplies and worked on several homes in the Flathead area.

The investigation also found Maldonado-Medina had been injured while working on a home construction site in Whitefish, and that SM Roofing did not have workers' compensation insurance.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.