Austin barbecue restaurant manager, owner charged with fraud

The Texas Department of Insurance says the owner of a popular barbecue spot in East Austin and her manager have been charged for their alleged role in a $350,000 workers’ compensation fraud scheme.

Barbecue manager Allison Clem and his wife, LeAnn Mueller, owner of the food truck and restaurant, are both scheduled to appear in Travis County District Court on September 28.

In a press release, the Texas Department of Insurance says that in 2016, a restaurant employee was seriously injured while operating kitchen equipment, and Clem and Mueller discovered the injury that day. Four days later, Clem contacted Paychex Insurance to obtain workers’ compensation coverage, which the restaurant had not had since November 2014.

According to a Fraud Unit investigation conducted by the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), Clem did not disclose his employee’s injuries to the agent, but requested that the new policy be backdated to July 1, 2016, three weeks before the employee was injured. Mueller then submitted a signed application for coverage stating that the company had suffered no previous losses and that the policy had been approved by the Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America.

The press release says that when Travelers received the claim for the employee’s injury, they approved the claim and paid the injured employee more than $350,000 in medical and compensation benefits. The insurance company is also responsible for the lifelong care of the injured employee.

If convicted in Travis County, Clem and Mueller could be ordered to pay restitution plus double the amount the Travelers have already paid in benefits to the injured worker.

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