Ex-Federal Worker Pleads Guilty to Disability Benefits Fraud

November 12, 2020

A former Federal Air Marshal employee pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraudulently collecting nearly a quarter of a million dollars in government disability benefits while owning and operating a martial arts business in Rhode Island, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Aaron Weisman said.

Joseph Patrick Watterson, 52, of Newport, admitted he initially concealed on his workers’ compensation forms that he owned a martial arts business, Two Swords Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, in Middletown.

Weisman said he also falsely represented his role at the studio as merely administrative because he did not want his disability benefits to be reduced or terminated. Weisman said Watterson was in fact instructing and engaging in jiu jitsu.

Weisman said Watterson collected disability benefits totaling more than $240,000 that he was not entitled to collect from May 2016 to March 2019.

He pleaded guilty to making false statements to obtain federal workers’ compensation benefits in Providence federal court. He’s due to be sentenced in January.

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