A former police officer from Maryville is facing felony charges in connection with an allegedly fraudulent workers' compensation claim. The man, age 43, faces two charges of violating the Workers' Compensation Act, along with two additional charges of theft. He has been released from custody after posting bail, according to authorities.

Investigators allege that the man made a false claim about a back injury in 2009. The municipality paid the man $38,000 for time taken from work, and the city's insurance plan paid an additional $150,000 in related medical expenses. Prosecutors allege that the man did not hurt his back at work, but rather injured himself during his off-duty breaks. Media outlets have not disclosed the nature of the back injury.

The veteran officer had been with the Maryville department since 2003, according to official records. He resigned from his position in October 2011.

The man could avoid penalties in this case if his legal team can prove that the injury investigation reached inappropriate conclusions. The city is charging that the man injured his back while he was off-duty; the initial injury may have happened elsewhere, but the damage may have occurred at work. In that case, it is difficult to determine who is liable for the man's medical bills and lost wages, largely because the source of the injury cannot be clearly identified. Many workers' compensation firms are wary to part with valuable resources, so they vilify claimants in order to maintain their profit margins.

Conversely, if the man's defense team is unable to present that defense, the man could consider pleading guilty to the charges before him. The charges are felonies, which means they could lead to a federal prison sentence, but defense attorneys may be able to reach a satisfactory plea deal with area prosecutors. The plea bargain could lower or remove the charges entirely in exchange for an admission of guilt.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Former Maryville officer faces charges related to fraudulent worker's comp claim," Marion A. Walker, Dec. 21, 2012.