REDDING- On September 22, 2020, Lance Steven Pasalich, 23, was arraigned on multiple felony counts of insurance fraud and grand theft after allegedly defrauding his insurer to receive more than $8,600 in disability payments he was not entitled to receive. The alleged scheme could potentially have cost the insurer more than $55,000 in claim expenses.
An investigation by the California Department of Insurance revealed Pasalich submitted a workers' compensation claim for a slip-injury he sustained while working for a land management company in Shasta County. Pasalich was working as a seasonal forestry technician responsible for conducting large surveys to prevent wildfires.
Following the injury to Pasalich's knee, his employer's workers' compensation insurer provided him with temporary total disability benefits and treatment to help him return to his job. The insurer instructed Pasalich, multiple times, that he was required to report any additional work or income he earned while receiving disability benefits. Temporary total disability benefits are intended to aid recovering injured workers who need additional time to recover or receive a permanent disability rating.
Investigators followed Pasalich and observed that he secretly resumed working as a forestry technician, but for a different company. Pasalich is accused of repeatedly neglecting to disclose his resumption of forestry work. By working while receiving disability payments, Pasalich was able to simultaneously receive disability benefits and work income.
“Workers’ Comp is designed to financially assist workers who are hurt on the job so that they may concentrate on healing and returning to work if possible,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “To cheat and receive this benefit while working and earning a paycheck is a crime. If we didn’t have investigators to find those cheating the system, workers’ comp premiums would be even higher than they are now. Insurance fraud of any type affects us all in higher premiums.”
The Shasta County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.