Crime

Career criminal a no-show in Franklin County court

A criminal with a history of defrauding businesses and people was a no-show in court Tuesday on new allegations he continued working while collecting state benefits for an on-the-job injury.

A bench warrant was issued for Richard Robson Trott’s arrest after he failed to appear to enter a plea in Franklin County Superior Court.

Judge Alex Ekstrom set his bail at about $10,236.88 — cash only.

That is the exact amount Trott allegedly collected in workers’ compensation benefits for more than four months as he also earned wages from two construction companies.

Court documents show Trott, 47, was last known to live in West Richland, Pasco and Colorado Springs, Colo.

The first-degree theft case was filed earlier this month by the state Attorney General’s Office, which is handling the case because the alleged victim is another state agency, the Department of Labor & Industries.

The charge includes the aggravating circumstance that it was a major economic offense because it occurred over a lengthy period and involved several incidents per victim.

“Some people may think cheating the system is easy money, but it’s not,” Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards, said in a news release. “We regularly catch workers’ comp crooks by cross-checking L&I data with that of other public agencies.”

Trott reportedly was working for a construction firm and was at a Moses Lake job site in May 2014, when he twisted his right knee while stepping off a ladder.

Assistant Attorney General Richard L. Weber alleges the crime happened between May and October 2014, when Trott repeatedly submitted official documents claiming he was too disabled to work because of the injury.

Trott received medical services and wage-replacement payments through September 2014.

Department investigator Noe Cardenas started looking into Trott’s claims in March after a routine cross-check of both L&I and Employment Security Department records showed he was working during that same time for a construction firm in Battle Ground and another one in Selah, according to court documents.

Trott did not report the $18,900 he was paid by one employer and the nearly $700 he received for three days of work with the second company, documents said.

The Department of Labor & Industries relied on Trott’s misrepresentations that he was not working and paid him for benefits he was entitled to, said Cardenas.

Trott has at least 18 convictions, including theft, forgery, possession of stolen property, robbery and 12 counts of issuing bad checks.

In 2012, he was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison for pocketing money from customers of a Pasco construction company and forging business checks to cover supplies and equipment for the projects.

The total loss added up to nearly $8,000, and in part led to the company’s closure.

Trott also reportedly has several active warrants for failing to pay fines and restitution from prior cases.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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