Aug 24, 2022 - Food and Drink

La Barbecue manager and owner indicted on fraud charges

Signage for la Barbecue outside the door to the restaurant

La Barbecue is a well-known Austin restaurant. Photo: Nicole Cobler/Axios

The owner and manager of East Austin staple la Barbecue were indicted for their alleged role in a workers' compensation fraud scheme, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.

The big picture: Allison Clem, manager of la Barbecue, and her wife and la Barbecue owner, LeAnn Mueller, were summoned to appear in Travis County District Court, per a Tuesday press release.

Details: The press release says an employee suffered "severe injuries" in 2016 while operating kitchen equipment, but the restaurant did not have workers' compensation coverage.

  • Clem allegedly contacted Paychex Insurance for coverage and asked the group to backdate it to three weeks before the employee was injured, even though the restaurant had been without coverage since November 2014.
  • She did not make Paychex Insurance aware of the worker's injuries, according to the press release, and Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America approved the policy.
  • Travelers later approved the claim for the employee's injury and paid the employee more than $350,000 in medical and indemnity benefits.

The other side: The owner and manager "believed they were acting in good faith at all times" and "all the monies ... were paid to the employee or directly for his medical expenses and not to la Barbecue, LeAnn Mueller or Allison Clem," per a statement to Axios from their lawyer.

  • "We believe once a jury hears the facts, that la Barbecue, LeAnn Mueller and Allison Clem will be exonerated," he said.

The bottom line: If they're found guilty, the two women could be ordered to pay restitution and double the amount already paid to the injured worker, the department said.


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