On May 4th, 2021

Rice Mill Worker Convicted in Insurance Fraud Scheme Surveillance at bar captures worker discussing fraudulent workers’ compensation claim

SACRAMENTO— On April 26, 2021, Brooke Gomez, 29, of Maxwell, was convicted and sentenced on one misdemeanor count of workers’ compensation insurance fraud after she claimed to be too injured to work in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits while working for another employer.

Gomez pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge and was sentenced in Colusa County Superior Court. She was placed on 12 months summary probation and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution and $630 in fines.

“Lying about the extent of injuries, not being able to return to work, collecting workers’ compensation while working, can all result in criminal charges and fines,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  “California Department of Insurance investigators are very good at tracking down individuals who commit insurance fraud which is a good thing because we all pay the price for insurance fraud by way of higher premiums.”

On August 14, 2019, while working as a rice grader, Gomez sustained an abdominal injury lifting bags of rice. Following her injury, a workers’ compensation claim was filed with her employer’s insurance company and Gomez began receiving workers’ compensation payments.

Gomez told her employer she had been offered several part-time jobs, but declined the offers due to her work injury. However, other mill workers reported to their employer that they witnessed Gomez working as a bartender at a local bar.

An investigation by the California Department of Insurance found Gomez misrepresented her symptoms to medical professionals and those handling her claim. Undercover surveillance showed Gomez interacting with customers, serving drinks, completing cash transactions with patrons and wiping down tables – all functions she claimed not to be able to do as a result of her injury. The surveillance also discovered Gomez discussing her workers’ compensation claim with bar patrons and discussing her hopes of not getting caught working at the bar while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Due to Gomez’s misrepresentations, she received $6,893 in undeserved workers’ compensation payments and her employers’ insurance company lost an additional $8,992 in legal and investigation costs.

This case was prosecuted by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office on behalf of the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office.

 

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