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Work comp fraud charges filed against California woman who competed in grueling trail race

As stated in prior posts, employee fraud - particularly workers' compensation fraud - is nothing to be taken lightly. It can cost employers significant time and money, two prized commodities in today's turbulent economy. In addition, an employee caught engaging in this type of fraudulent activity faces large fines, a permanent criminal record and even prison time.

To illustrate the severity of the situation, consider the case of a Daly City woman who is currently facing multiple felony charges, including five felony counts of work comp fraud, for fabricating her work injuries.

According to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, 34-year-old Emily Hegner, an employee of the California Department of Public Health, sought work comp benefits after claiming to have suffered injuries to her wrist, hip and lower back while working at a hospital.

She also claimed that she experienced "pain and difficulty walking distances" and that her injuries necessitated the use of a cane and wrist splint.

Interestingly, investigators with the California Department of Insurance eventually discovered something very intriguing about Hegner that called her injuries and, more importantly, her ability to collect work comp benefits into question.

She completed a race while collecting benefits.

In fact, she completed a grueling seven mile off-road race that is part of the Muir Woods Marathon and described on one running website as "climb[ing] steadily to reach 1,800 feet" over the first three miles.

(The results of the race, which are published online, indicated that Hegner placed 132 out of 176 with a time of 1 hour and 48 minutes.)

Prosecutors also allege that six days after the race, Hegner even went to her physician's office - using her cane - to ask for a handicapped parking permit.

Hegner turned herself in on March 9, shortly after an arrest warrant was issued and one day before her scheduled arraignment. She later posted $120,000 bail.

If convicted, she could be sentenced to a maximum of nine years in prison.

Workers compensation fraud/employee fraud is a very serious crime. If you suspect that such a crime has been perpetrated against your organization, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced workers' comp defense attorney.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Runner cashing in on workers' comp faces jail time after competing in race (The San Francisco Examiner)

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