‘Ax Man’ Charged with WA State Disability Fraud

February 25, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A Washington state resident who has appeared on a History Channel reality show about logging has been charged with theft after officials alleged he accepted state permanent disability payments while still working.

A news story in the Olympian said James Frank Smith was released on his own recognizance after a hearing before Judge Gary Tabor. The newspaper reported that state investigators learned in March 2009 that Smith was working as a logger in Florida and appearing on the “Ax Men” History Channel show while receiving monthly payments and medical benefits, court papers state.

 According to the newspaper:

  • Since April 2007, Smith has received more than $50,000 time-loss and pension benefits after submitting two injury claims, one in 1993 and another in 1996 and also was paid for his appearances on “Ax Men” and didn’t tell L&I about the job.
  • L&I learned that Smith owns S&S Aqua Logging in Florida; it was established in April 2007.
  • Smith was featured in season two of “Ax Men,” which was filmed in October and November 2008 and aired in March 2009. He also appeared in episodes of seasons three and four of the show.
  • The Olympian said in October 1993, Smith filed a workers’ compensation claim stating that he had injured his left knee while working at Schneider Construction. He filed a secondary claim in 1996, alleging that while working for Beck Petroleum, “he injured his right leg, tibia, shoulder and back.” He was placed on pension December 16, 2010.
  • The state awarded Smith time-loss benefits totaling $21,277.13 from April 1, 2007, to December 15, 2007. It also awarded him pension benefits from December 16, 2007, to March 15, 2009, totaling $29,603.29, the newspaper said.