New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro today announced the arrest of a former Verizon New York employee who allegedly lied to doctors about arm injuries to obtain more than $19,000 in workers’ compensation and company-provided benefits – while surveillance showed her exercising and lifting weights despite her claims of being unable to work.
Kelly M. Gersbacher, 44, of Mattydale, was arrested and arraigned virtually last night in East Syracuse Village Court before Hon. Ralph Cognetti of Town of Pompey Justice Court on charges of Grand Larceny in the third degree; Falsifying Business Records in the first degree (2 counts); Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the first degree; and Workers’ Compensation Law section 114(1), Penalties for Fraudulent Practices (2 counts) – all felonies.
Gersbacher worked for Verizon New York as a technician when she sustained carpal tunnel-related injuries to both arms in August 2016. After having multiple surgeries between 2017 and 2019, she began receiving workers’ compensation indemnity payments in January 2019. In addition, Gersbacher received additional payments through Verizon New York’s disability benefits plan.
As required, Gersbacher attended independent medical examinations (IME) in 2019, where she claimed she could only lift 10 pounds from the ground, and that, because of the injuries, she was unable to continue going to her gym. Based upon her misrepresentation of her physical condition, doctors determined that she was moderately disabled resulting in her receiving more than $19,000 in benefits.
However, video surveillance from September and October 2019 found that Gersbacher was working out at gyms and conducting multiple errands, all in no apparent distress. She was filmed as she performed deadlifts with weights far exceeding 10 pounds and engaged in other weightlifting activity.
“This individual allegedly abused the workers’ compensation system by lying to doctors about the extent of her injuries,” said Inspector General Tagliafierro. “The workers’ compensation program provides vital funds to those who are truly injured and in need. My office will continue to work with law enforcement to find those seeking to wrongfully obtain benefits from this important program.”
Inspector General Tagliafierro thanked Sedgwick Claims Management, the third-party claims administrator for Verizon New York, for its assistance with the investigation, the New York State Police for its assistance with the arrest, and Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick and his office for prosecuting this matter.
The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.