Fake an injury or the extent of that injury to fraudulently obtain workers' compensation benefits and you can bet California Department of Insurance (CDI) detectives will be knocking on your door with a pair of handcuffs.
Three recent arrests include a former Los Angeles County probation officer, a former Los Angeles Unified School District police officer and a Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department employee.
"CDI detectives are teaming up with other agencies and departments to put a stop to this despicable crime," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "Unfortunately there are more dishonest people making fraudulent claims than there are detectives. It's appalling the number of people who basically steal from a fund meant to help workers who are truly hurt and unable to perform their jobs."
On May 16, 2014, CDI detectives, along with the Los Angeles County Probation's Special Projects Team, arrested Robyn Palmer, 29, a former probation officer, for insurance fraud. Palmer is accused of filing numerous fraudulent insurance claims and receiving disability insurance benefits she was not entitled to for a total amount of more than $29,000. The benefits were for an alleged back and shoulder injury Palmer claimed happened while restraining a minor at juvenile hall. Probation records showed that on the alleged injury date, Palmer was not at work and there were no employee records documenting any work related injury involving Palmer.
Palmer was arrested on 14 felony counts for insurance fraud, forgery, wire fraud and grand theft and faces prison or jail time if convicted.
Last month, former Los Angeles Unified School District police officer, Pedro Plascencia, 48, was also arrested for workers' compensation fraud. Plascencia is charged with presenting a false material statement, concealment, and perjury for attempting to defraud the insurance company by exaggerating the extent of his injuries.
Plascencia claimed he was hurt while patrolling the school campus after his patrol bicycle struck a cantaloupe and he lost control of his bicycle. Plascencia originally claimed injury to his right knee, right foot and right hand, but after obtaining legal counsel he added injury to his back, hips and both knees. Plascencia originally denied any prior medical injury, however subpoenaed medical records indicated that Plascencia, did in fact, sustain prior injuries to those body parts.
Plascencia's permanent disability finding was changed when the treating doctor was supplied with the medical records reflecting the true injury history. Had the discrepancy not been caught, Plascencia would have unfairly received approximately an additional $15,000 in permanent disability benefits.
Also last month, Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department employee Susette Boggs, 52 was arrested for allegedly exaggerating symptoms of Lyme disease contracted from a tick bite while working at Placerita Canyon Nature Center in Newhall. According to investigators, she participated in physical activities that conflicted with symptoms she reported. She was alleged to have collected $364,932 more than she was entitled to in disability benefits.