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Update: California school district sees seventh case of work comp fraud

Back in April, we discussed how the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in Industry was being plagued by repeat occurrences of work comp fraud over a relatively short amount of time. Specifically, we examined how six district employees have faced criminal charges for lying about their work injuries since 2011.

Now, it appears as if a another employee can be added to the list.

Yesterday, 63-year-old Alicia R. turned herself into authorities after being charged with five felony counts of insurance fraud and one count of attempted perjury in September.

Authorities are alleging that Alicia R. -- who has worked as a substitute teacher for the school district since 2001 -- claimed to have suffered a serious shoulder injury that prevented her from working back in May 2010 when she fell out of a chair. However, investigators purportedly secured video evidence of her performing "strenuous activities" while collecting work comp benefits from the school district.

Alicia R. is now the seventh school district employee to be accused of work comp fraud since January 2011.

According to reports, some of the previous instances include:

  • This past spring, a campus security officer for the school district who claimed to have suffered a serious knee injury was charged with insurance fraud by the California Department of Insurance
  • Earlier this year, a high school teacher who claimed to have suffered an elbow injury agreed to pay the school district $5,000 in restitution after he was discovered working at area race tracks while collecting work comp.
  • In February 2011, a school official who claimed to have suffered knee, chest and back injuries after being struck by a student was arrested and charged with grand theft, perjury and insurance fraud after videotape showed her working for two weeks at a private medical clinic. She ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of insurance fraud, and was sentenced to serve five years probation and $8,800 in restitution.
  • In February 2011, a school worker who claimed to have suffered a serious shoulder injury after trying to catch a fertilizer bag was arrested and charged after an investigator witnessed him hanging heavy holiday decorations and driving stakes into the ground. He ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of insurance fraud and was sentenced to pay $4,910 in restitution.
  • In March 2011, a school official who claimed to have suffered rib, chest, leg, neck and back injuries while administering the Heimlich maneuver on a child, carrying the same child and being jumped on by another child, was charged with attempted perjury and insurance fraud. Here, investigators recorded her visiting Disneyland, carrying her children, camping and "moving without any apparent restrictions." She ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of insurance fraud, and was sentenced to two days in jail, two years probation, and $5,000 in restitution

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. Names have been withheld to protect the identity of the parties.

Sources:

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "Hacienda La Puente arrested on workers' compensation fraud charges" J.D. Velasco, Oct. 31, 2012

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "Hacienda La Puente Unified employee arrested for insurance fraud; sixth fraud case in district," J.D. Velasco, March 30, 2012

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