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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/20/87)

decided: November 20, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in the case of In Re: Claim of Ronald Losoncy, No. B-245376.

COUNSEL

Amy Zapp, Deputy Attorney General, with her, Andrew S. Gordon, Chief Deputy Attorney General Chief, Litigation Section, LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for petitioner.

James K. Bradley, Assistant Counsel, with him, Clifford F. Blaze, Deputy Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 188]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Office of Attorney General (Petitioner) appeals from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review which reversed the referee's finding of willful misconduct*fn1 and awarded unemployment compensation benefits to Ronald M. Losoncy (Claimant).

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 189]

Claimant worked as a Medicaid Fraud Investigator in the Norristown office of Petitioner's Medicaid Fraud Control Section. In March of 1984, Petitioner began an investigation into Claimant's use of demerol. Pursuant to that investigation, two meetings were held with Claimant, one on March 23, 1984 and another on April 26, 1984. At both meetings, Claimant was asked about his use of demerol.

Only Petitioner presented evidence and testimony before the referee.*fn2 Based on that evidence and testimony, the referee found that Claimant knowingly lied to Petitioner and knowingly tried to mislead or misinform Petitioner. Referee's Findings of Fact, Nos. 10 and 12. The referee concluded Claimant's actions were in disregard of the standards of behavior which an employer reasonably expects of an employee and, therefore, constituted willful misconduct within the meaning of Section 402(e). Consequently, the referee denied benefits.

Claimant appealed, and the Board reversed the referee, specifically finding that "Claimant did not knowingly provide misleading information to the employer relative to his use of demerol." Board Finding of Fact # 9. Based on this finding, the Board concluded that Petitioner had not met its burden of proving willful misconduct and, therefore, awarded benefits.*fn3

On appeal to this Court, Petitioner argues the Board erred as a matter of law in reversing the referee's decision.

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 190]

Specifically, Petitioner contends it was error for the Board to disregard the referee's findings of fact, without stating its reasons for doing so, where only Petitioner presented evidence and testimony before the referee and the Board heard no additional testimony. We note that the question of whether Claimant knowingly misled and lied to Petitioner is fundamental to a ...


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