Widower charged with $30K workers' comp theft

2013-03-06T19:24:00Z Widower charged with $30K workers' comp theftBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record The Billings Gazette
March 06, 2013 7:24 pm  • 

HELENA — A Cascade man is facing charges he illegally received nearly $30,000 in workers' compensation benefits related to his wife’s 2004 workplace death.

Prosecutors say he should have stopped receiving the money upon his remarriage in 2011.

Robert Leighton Canoy, 68, was charged last month in District Court in Helena with felony theft.

According to prosecutors, Canoy’s wife, Betty Canoy, died in August 2004 in an accident related to her job with the Montana Department of Transportation, and Robert Canoy began receiving workers' compensation benefits of about $786 from the Montana State Fund every two weeks — about $20,000 a year.

The payments were due to expire 500 weeks — about 10 years — after his wife’s death, or if Canoy remarried, according to prosecutors.

From 2005 to 2010, Canoy returned an annual questionnaire from the State Fund confirming his marital status, according to a prosecutor’s affidavit. But he didn’t return the form in 2011 and 2012, according to the report.

State investigators searching the Internet found a newspaper announcement announcing Canoy’s remarriage in April 2011, according to the prosecutors.

Canoy told investigators he was excited to get married and didn’t think about the payments until he received his next annual State Fund questionnaire, according to prosecutors, and realized he was no longer entitled to the benefits.

“When I knew it I continued to take the checks, and what I as doing was trying to get myself in a financial position to do without them, and I just went too long,” he told investigators in January, according to prosecutors. “That’s the honest thing. I am not denying any of it.”

The affidavit says Canoy received $29,118 in unwarranted benefits.

Canoy remains free without bail and is scheduled for arraignment March 14.

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