Federal Air Marshal Sentenced, Ordered to Payback Quarter Million Dollars in Fraudulent Workers’ Comp Payments | USAO-RI

PROVIDENCE – A now former Federal Air Marshal who fraudulently collected more than $240,000 in workers’ compensation benefits he collected based on his employment with the government after concealing from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), his self-employment and role in a Middletown-based martial arts business, has been sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay back the ill-gotten disability benefits.

Joseph Patrick Watterson, 52, of Newport, a martial arts Black Belt, previously admitted that he initially concealed on OWCP forms the fact that he owned and was engaged 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 studio, not wanting 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 that he was not entitled to collect.

Watterson pleaded guilty on November 10, 2020, to false statements to obtain federal workers’ compensation benefits. He was sentenced on Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to two years probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $241,118.52,  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.

The case was 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.

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