FRESNO – On March 12, 2021, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) announced Veronica Catalina Cortes-Ambrosio, 53, of Madera, was charged on two felony counts of insurance fraud after allegedly lying about physical limitations from an injury at work in an attempt to receive undeserved workers’ compensation benefits.
“Workers’ compensation is a benefit meant to assist those who have been injured on the job and who need time to heal away from work,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “If fraud is suspected, CDI investigators will investigate and arrest those suspected of it.”
A CDI investigation revealed on May 6, 2017, Cortes-Ambrosio was working for a farm labor company when she was struck with a gardening tool by a co-worker resulting in injuries to her right shoulder, neck, and back. She was evaluated and received initial treatment for the alleged injuries, but the workers’ compensation claim she filed was denied.
Cortes-Ambrosio continued to seek medical care and obtained legal counsel to pursue the claim. She claimed to experience severe and nearly constant pain related to the injury and was unable to perform everyday activities such as sitting, standing, walking, reaching, and lifting. Cortes-Ambrosio’s employer offered her modified duties due to her stated limitations, but she refused and did not return to work.
Video surveillance was obtained of Cortes-Ambrosio during the time she claimed physical limitations due to the injury. The video showed her cleaning in and around her home, doing yardwork, ascending and descending stairs, reaching overhead, and lifting – all tasks she claimed she could not perform and prevented her from returning to work.
Cortes-Ambrosio’s fraudulent claims of ongoing pain and an inability to perform basic work functions, led to her employer’s insurance company paying approximately $48,140 in unnecessary medical, investigative, and legal costs.
Cortes-Ambrosio is scheduled to be arraigned on May 26, 2021. This case is being prosecuted by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.