COLUMBUS -- A Coshocton woman has pleaded guilty to workers' compensation fraud after an investigation revealed she was working as a bartender while receiving Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits for a workplace injury from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC).

Mary Cox entered her plea to the fifth-degree felony Tuesday, Feb. 8 in the courtroom of Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye.

"Permanent Total Disability benefits are reserved for those who physically are not capable of returning to employment," said BWC Administrator Steve Buehrer. "It is unfortunate that anyone would attempt to take advantage of this benefit when those truly in need of PTD are often facing a difficult future after being severely injured and sadly having no prospect of returning to their livelihoods."

BWC's Special Investigation Department opened an investigation into Cox in July 2009 after receiving an allegation that she was working as a bartender at the Coshocton Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1330 while receiving PTD benefits. The investigation confirmed that Cox was employed at the VFW since Dec. 20, 2008, although she began receiving PTD benefits in 2006. She was indicted Aug. 19, 2010.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Cox was ordered to pay $19,231.70 in restitution to BWC and $500 in investigative costs. She made a $6,000 payment toward restitution this week following her court appearance. Sentencing is scheduled for March 31.

To report suspected workers' compensation fraud, visit ohiobwc.com, or call 1-800-OHIOBWC.