BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A long-term Baltimore mail carrier has been convicted of a disability scam that spanned seven years.
Colette Lee, 49, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty Monday to making false statements to obtain federal employee compensation benefits.
From 2003 to 2014, Lee worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier and then became a mail handler.
Lee submitted claims for disability for a work-related injury in May 2007, February 2008, August 2009 and October 2009—but failed to disclose relevant parts of her medical history, including an active injury claim, physical therapy and injuries from previous car accidents.
Lee received wage payments and the Federal Employees' Compensation Act benefits from May 2007 through January 2014.
In an August 2012 interview, Lee denied that she had any injuries prior to working for the Postal Service; stated that she had only been in one vehicle accident; stated she could not open her car door with her right hand; claimed that she drove her vehicle with her left hand while keeping her right hand down, needed to take breaks every 20 to 25 minutes, and could not use both hands to turn the steering wheel; advised that she could not grasp items with her right hand and had to ask people for assistance when shopping; and stated that she could not play with her son.
However, surveillance conducted from December 2010 to February 2014 showed Lee engaging in activities inconsistent with what she reported during the August interview.
Agents observed Lee opening and unlocking her car door with her right hand, driving her vehicle at times with only her right hand, driving long periods without breaks, using her right hand to lift herself into a van, using both hands to maneuver the steering wheel, grasping items with her right hand, talking on her cell phone with her right hand, shopping by herself while grabbing items and unloading items without any assistance, and playing with children while running, walking, lifting, bending, and riding a bike.
Lee also admitted that she applied for food stamp benefits, which are funded by the Department of Agriculture, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, without disclosing that she was receiving FECA benefits.
Lee has agreed to pay restitution of $244,912.65, the loss suffered by the Postal Service and the Department of Agriculture from May 2007 through January 2014.
She faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Sentencing is set for Feb. 2, 2015.
Other Local News:
for more features.