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The inside story

What do a Spokane motel, nightclub, and apartment have in common?


July 25, 2014
By Debby Abe

Spokane-area readers might be familiar with the Lascelle Motel, the now-defunct Sunset Junction nightclub, or the brick apartment building at 1010 W. Boone Ave.

A few years back, there were news stories about efforts to revive the Sunset Junction and the brick apartment building.

Now the businesses are the setting for an L&I-investigated criminal case that’s just been filed in Spokane County Superior Court. Read about it here.


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Recipe for fraud: Busing dishes, prepping food while claiming arms are too weak to work


September 24, 2014
By Debby Abe

Check out this undercover video clip of a Spokane Valley woman who was caught in a workers’ comp scam.

An L&I investigator videotaped the woman, Wanitta Racicot, in August 2011 performing a variety of tasks to operate the Spokane restaurant she co-owned at the time. Footage shows her prepping food, busing dishes, scrubbing floors, carrying groceries, driving and doing other activities. The same month, Racicot told an L&I investigator that her hands were so disabled from an earlier work injury that she couldn’t even button her shirts or put on earrings.

Last week, Racicot pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, and was sentenced to 60 days confinement, converted to electronic home monitoring. The court also ordered Racicot to repay the state $125,000. Read more about it here.

There’s no free tab for workers’ comp fraud.


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Saving a life was all in a day’s work for these heroes


September 25, 2014
By Elaine Fischer

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Tom Vessey

Tom Vessey is credited with saving the lives of two people during an early morning carbon monoxide leak inside their home in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

Tom has worked in Puget Sound Energy’s Gas First Response unit for the past 27 years. On March 26, he took a call from dispatch at 3:30 a.m. from a homeowner reporting that her carbon monoxide detector was sounding an alarm. Vessey checked the fireplace, range and water heater in the townhouse but didn’t find any major problems. As they closed the windows, which had been opened to air out the residence, the carbon monoxide levels spiked again. Tom then went to a neighboring townhouse to look for a problem. There he found an unoccupied car with its lights on running in the garage. He called 911, and the Seattle fire and police arrived and kicked in the door. They found a semi-conscious couple in their 30s collapsed at the top of a staircase. They and their dog were rushed outside. Thanks to Tom’s training and quick actions, all survived this potentially deadly incident.

Tom and 22 other Washingtonians were honored with the Governor’s Lifesaving Award at the Governor’s Industrial Safety & Health Conference in Spokane today. Check out the stories of the other amazing winners who stepped up to help save a life: http://lni.wa.gov/News/files/20140923FactSheetLifesavingAwards.pdf


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