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Authorities arrest veteran L.A. County probation officer for insurance fraud

Serious work injuries that sideline employees for a prolonged period of time are simply inevitable. That is precisely why California law requires all employers to carry work comp insurance so that when these work injuries do occur, employees will be adequately protected.

While the overwhelming majority of employees file valid claims for their work injuries, there are always some individuals willing to put their jobs and reputations on the line in an attempt to collect fraudulent work comp benefits.

To illustrate, consider a recent case right here in Los Angeles County, where a probation officer was arrested and charged with workers' compensation fraud.

According to reports, 36-year-old Rochelle W. was arrested by detectives with the California Department of Insurance last Tuesday for allegedly filing multiple fraudulent work comp claims over a three-year span.

Specifically, authorities are alleging that from November 2009 to July 2010, Rochelle W. submitted nine fraudulent disability claim forms to her insurer, complete with the forged signatures of her physician and various employees at the Los Angeles County Probation Office.

Authorities claim that these falsified forms -- which were for a purported neck and back injury that left her unable to work -- resulted in Rochelle W. securing a total of $12,000 in disability insurance benefits.

Interestingly, officials indicated that other employees at the department are currently under investigation for similar conduct.

"We are continuing to work closely with other law enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, to crack down on instances of employee fraud," said Los Angeles County Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers. "Hopefully, this will serve as a clear message that this chief and, this Probation Department will not tolerate criminal behavior by the staff."

Rochelle W., a six-year veteran of the department, is facing 27 felony counts and could be sent to prison if convicted. She is currently on administrative leave.

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.

Sources:

The Los Angeles Times, "L.A. probation officer arrested in alleged workers' comp fraud," Sept. 4, 2012

California Department of Insurance, "Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announces arrest of Los Angeles County probation officer for insurance fraud, forgery," Sept. 4, 2012

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