LOS ANGELES - On May 13, 2016, California Department of Insurance detectives arrested Juanita Denise Schmittle, 50, of Baldwin Park, on two counts of workers' compensation fraud after she allegedly misrepresented her injuries and mental health conditions suffered while working as an instructional aide for the Baldwin Park Unified School District. Schmittle's alleged misrepresentations resulted in $33,000 in unnecessary treatment costs and unearned disability payments over the course of three years.
"There seems to be no end in the number of individuals who think they can cheat the workers' compensation system and get away with it," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "Fortunately the Department of Insurance has a team of top notch detectives who can investigate these crimes, make arrests and assist district attorneys with prosecution."
Schmittle allegedly suffered injuries to her right wrist, left knee and left hip after slipping and falling onto a wet floor while at work. Schmittle claimed these injuries became progressively more severe and she developed psychological problems, as a result.
The California Department of Insurance launched an investigation after Schmittle's employer reported suspected fraud. The investigation revealed Schmittle's treating physician referred her to a psychologist after she claimed she was depressed from not being able to return to work. After being evaluated by a psychologist it was apparent that Schmittle exaggerated her symptoms and intentionally misled others while malingering.
"Workers' compensation fraud is a costly crime that we all pay for," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Insurers pass along the cost of their losses to businesses through higher insurance premiums and those costs are passed onto to consumers through higher prices for goods and services. Ultimately, there is a ripple effect on our economy."
If convicted, Schmittle faces up to five years in county jail.