Theft trial date set for Kent businessman Mark Owen

An Aug. 27 trial date has been set for a Kent businessman charged with four counts of first-degree theft and one count of forgery for allegedly receiving $19,459 from the state for a job injury claim even though he had returned to work.

Mark Lee Owen, 39, the son of state Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing July 23 in Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia and a status conference Aug. 22, according to an email from Janelle Guthrie, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office, which charged Owen in March.

Owen pleaded not guilty to the charges in April.

Owen filed an industrial injury claim Nov. 9, 2009 with the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) after being shot in the arm at work at Kent Body, Paint and Fabrication by Carlos Fernandez, the owner of the business. Fernandez then shot himself and died two days later. The shooting reportedly occurred because of a business dispute between the two men. Owen had partial ownership of the shop.

Owen received medical services and time loss compensation from Nov. 13, 2009 through May 5, 2010, according to charging papers filed in March.

But a state L&I investigation determined Owen returned to work within a couple of days of the injury. Owen withheld that information from the state. He would not have been entitled to time loss compensation had he properly reported his actual return to work date.

Investigators served a search warrant in July 2010 at the business and determined through interviews with co-workers that Owen returned to work within two weeks after the shooting.

Owen told investigators in March 2011 that he had collected time loss compensation while working at the Kent company. He indicated he returned to work two days after the shooting. Owen had signed and completed six worker verification forms in order to collect payments from the state because of his work-related injury.

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