PROVIDENCE – A former Federal Air Marshal employee admitted in federal court in Providence today that he concealed his self-employment and then his role in a Middletown-based martial arts business from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, in order to collect nearly a quarter of a million dollars in OWCP disability benefits based on his employment with the government.
Joseph Patrick Watterson, 52, of Newport, admitted that he initially concealed on OWCP forms the fact that he owned and was engaging in physical activities at his martial arts business, Two Swords Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Later, after admitting that he was self-employed, he concealed on OWCP forms the true scope of his employment activities at his martial arts studios, because he did not want his OWCP benefits to be reduced or terminated.
Watterson admitted that he concealed the fact that he was instructing and engaging in jiu jitsu. Rather than disclose his physical activities at his martial arts studio, Watterson falsely represented that his role was merely administrative. In a letter to DOL, Watterson described his duties as involving “cleaning and maintaining school, share the bookkeeping.”
According to the government’s evidence, from May 31, 2016 to March 3, 2019, Watterson collected disability benefits totaling approximately $241,118.52 he was not entitled to collect.
Appearing today before U.S. District Court William E. Smith, Watterson pleaded guilty to false statements to obtain federal workers’ compensation benefits, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman; Michael A. Ondocin, Executive Assistant to the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (Federal Air Marshal Service); and Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division.
Watterson is scheduled to be sentenced on January 28, 2021. False statements to obtain federal workers’ compensation benefits is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment; a fine of $250,000; a term of supervised release of 3 years.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ly T. Chin.
The matter was investigated by the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.