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Walton County Human Resources Director arrested for insurance fraud

Photo: MGN

The Walton County Human Resources Director has been arrested for insurance fraud following an investigation by Walton County Sheriff's Office and Florida Department of Financial Services Bureau of Insurance Fraud.

On October 17, the sheriff's office was notified of potential insurance fraud involving an employee within the human resources department. An investigation was launched and discrepancies were found in the insurance file of 48-year-old Ella Mae Walters.

The sheriff's office said documents indicated Walters' insurance coverage for United Concordia Dental listed a dependent, Christopher Byrd. Based on Byrd's birthday and other documents, Byrd didn't qualify as a dependent for Walters.

A review of Walters' United Concordia policy and claims filed under that policy were completed. Three claims were filed pertaining to treatment for Byrd totaling just under $300.

During the investigation, the sheriff's office learned Byrd was employed by Walton County Board of County Commissioners as a courier from December 2014 to October 2015. However, during his tenure with Walton County, the sheriff's office said he never chose to enroll in dental insurance of any kind.

“As the Human Resources Director for our county Ella Mae Walters has extensive knowledge of employment benefits and has direct ability to approve and oversee all changes to insurance,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “In saying that, Mrs. Walters knowingly and intentionally obtained a benefit for Christopher Byrd by falsifying an official record or official document. In discussions with County Administration, it was clear that they shared our concerns and cooperated fully with the investigation.”

Walton County Administrator Larry Jones said Walters will be placed on administrative leave until an internal review can be completed.

“Once we became aware of these allegations, it was imperative that the sheriff’s office be allowed to conduct their investigation with no influence or interference from County staff. Now that the charges have been filed, we will place Mrs. Walters on administrative leave and perform an internal review to determine the most appropriate course of action,” Jones said.

The sheriff's office said Walters turned herself into the Okaloosa County Jail Friday morning and has been charged with official misconduct, false and fraudulent insurance claims, and falsifying records. Deputies said more charges may be forthcoming.

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