Ex-Perry cop faces trial for workers’ comp fraud

LEETONIA – A former full-time Perry Township police officer who claimed injury on the job and quit a year later is scheduled to face trial in Columbus this August for charges of workers’ compensation fraud and theft.

Thomas L. Gamble, 35, who owns State Route 45 Auto LLC and has an address listed as 5380 state Route 45, Leetonia, was indicted March 20 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court for the two fourth-degree felony charges, according to court records.

Requests were made in an attempt to secure a copy of the indictment, but failed as of press time. Melissa Vince, a media spokesperson for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, said they don’t normally release details about an investigation until the case is over.

Gamble entered a not guilty plea through his attorney Gerald Sunbury of Columbus on April 18, with a $2,000 recognizance bond set. The trial had originally been set for earlier this summer, but was reset to Aug. 18. According to online court information, the date of the offenses was listed as Nov. 2, 2012, but there was no further detail available about what happened to result in the charges.

Perry Township Police Chief Mike Emigh, when contacted Wednesday, said he wasn’t permitted to comment about the case. He did confirm, though, that the township police department was not part of the investigation, which was handled by investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

According to an incident report from 8:50 a.m. Feb. 25, 2012, Gamble was injured after responding to an accident. Township police were called to the 2600 block of Cunningham Road for a motor vehicle rollover which they learned was just out of the township. The Ohio State Highway Patrol was notified and township police assisted with traffic control.

The report said Gamble slipped on the ice and fell into the door jamb on one of the vehicles, which caused injury to his back. According to Emigh, two days after he fell in February 2012, he was no longer working.

He remained off work until submitting his letter of resignation on May 3, 2013. Gamble completed his Ohio Peace Officer Training on April 20, 1999 and started working for Perry Township part-time in late 1999/early 2000. He had been a full-time patrolman for many years before resigning from the department last year.

A court discovery document available online outlined the type of evidence the Ohio Attorney General’s Office intends to use for trial. The document said Gamble did not interview with agents from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, but “made numerous statements to several witnesses.”

Copies of those statements were provided to his defense attorney, along with copies of reports written by Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation agents and analysts involved in the investigation.

The document included the names of several potential witnesses the state may call at trial, including five workers from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation office in Youngstown and a supervisor from the Columbus office.

Local witnesses named included Jimmy Murphy of Salem, Michelle Sifonte of Lisbon, Justin Hardy of Salem, Brian Fullum of Salem, Dr. Joseph Scott of Salem and Kathy Hudak of Mercer, Pa.