A South Jersey letter carrier who was seen in photos posted on Facebook of him zip lining and rappelling has been indicted by a state grand jury in Trenton on charges of collecting $75,000 in federal benefits after he had been cleared medically to return to work, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office announced on Monday.
Robert McGeehan, 59, of Lower Township, was charged with theft by deception and insurance fraud.
Between July 2015 and June 2017, McGeehan allegedly obtained more than $75,000 from of workers' compensation benefits from the U.S. Postal Service, claiming he could no longer work as a letter carrier after he hurt his right wrist from a 2008 fall on ice while working, according to the indictment.
In July 2015, McGeehan posted photos on Facebook showing him zip lining and rappelling while on vacation. And in June and July of 2016, postal investigators recorded McGeehan outside his home doing strenuous yard work, including using a chain saw and a hand saw, and throwing large logs, the Attorney General's Office said in a statement.
"This defendant claims he is physically unfit to return to work, even on light duty, but he's allegedly out there engaging in strenuous physical activities, including outdoor recreation," said Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. "Workers' compensation is meant to provide financial assistance to those who are legitimately unable to work, not provide able-bodied employees with paid time off to enjoy themselves."
In September 2008, McGeehan had arthroscopic wrist surgery for the injury suffered when he slipped on ice. Although medical assessments ordered by the post office in 2009, 2010 and 2012 concluded that he could return to work to do light duty, McGeehan disputed the findings, submitting exam reports from his personal physician, and turned down several jobs that were less physically demanding, prosecutors allege.
"Those who unlawfully collect workers' compensation benefits undermine the integrity of the government assistance program and cause funds to be diverted from people who truly need them," said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. "The indictment of this postal worker sends a message that workers' compensation fraud is a serious crime with serious consequences."
According to prosecutors, McGeehan has been falsely claiming injury to his right wrist since July 2015.
While on vacation, McGeehan allegedly signed a liability waiver for activities that included "zip lines, rope swings, cargo net traverses, mechanical rappels, and climbing." The waiver noted the activities "are designed for use by participants of average mobility and strength who are in reasonably good health. … arthritis, tendinitis, and other joint and musculoskeletal problems may all impair the safety and well-being of participants."
Two days after signing the waiver, pictures of McGeehan rappelling and zip lining were posted on Facebook, prosecutors said.
It is not clear yet whether McGeehan has a lawyer.