Workers' Comp Fraud Blotter (3/27/2014) – DA Says Tree Trimmers Are Not Gardeners: Owners of Landscaping Company For Country Clubs Bound Over For Trial

Workers' Comp Fraud Blotter (3/27/2014) – DA Says Tree Trimmers Are Not Gardeners: Owners of Landscaping Company For Country Clubs Bound Over For Trial


Workers' Comp Fraud Blotter – March 27, 2014

DA Says Tree Trimmers Are Not Gardeners: Landscaping Company For Country Clubs Bound Over For Trial (CA) – Jesse Contreras and Carlos Contreras, father and son who own Sunshine Landscaping, have been bound over for trial on charges of workers' compensation fraud for misclassifying their employees. At the preliminary hearing, the deputy district attorney pointed out that "Tree trimmers fall out of trees. They get hurt. They're more expensive to insure….Unlike gardeners, who are picking around on the ground". The company, which provides landscaping services for many homeowner associations and country clubs in the Palm Desert area, misclassified employees to less risky jobs, such as 40 tree trimmers who they misclassified as gardeners.   Read more

Former Arena League Football Player Tried To Score While Receiving Workers’ Compensation (OH) – Kelvin Kinney has pled guilty to workers’ compensation fraud for playing while injured, sort of. In 2008, after Kinney was released by the arena football team Columbus Destroyers, he was granted temporary total disability benefits in Ohio, which he collected until 2012. But in 2010 and 2011, he also played for the arena football teams in Tampa and Dallas, while he collected $108,000 in workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio.   Read more

Double-Dipping Tree Trimmer Ordered To Repay Illegal Disability Benefits (TX) – Jose Rodrigo Ramirez-Valdez has been sentenced to two years’ deferred adjudication and ordered to pay $2,754 in restitution to Texas Mutual Insurance Company. Ramirez-Valdez reported a job-related injury while working as a crew chief for McCoy Tree Service Company and claimed that he was unable to work because of the injury. After he began receiving benefits from the insurer though, he went to work for another employer.   Read more

Man Charged With Workers’ Compensation Fraud Must Have Liked Food (WA) – Rodimiro Pacheco has been charged with first-degree theft for working at two different jobs while receiving workers' compensation benefits. Initially Pacheco was found to be working in an orchard. He fled, though, and an arrest warrant was issued for him. Later he was discovered to be working in a restaurant, and this time he was arrested.   Read more

Temporary Disability Claimant Did Not Toe the Line While He Repaired Shoes On the Side (OH) – Daniel Verlinger has pled guilty to attempted theft and has been ordered to pay restitution of $5,371.95 for unlawful workers’ compensation benefits that he received. While Verlinger was collecting temporary total benefits, investigators caught him during surveillance of his shoe repair store, Together Leather and Shoe Repair, assisting customers and completing leather and shoe repairs.   Read more

Mother and Daughter Interpreters Stretched Their Mileage With Illegal Interpretations Of the Law (WA) – Gloria Mendoza Garcia and her daughter, Gloria Del Rocio Gonzalez, who were the Washington Department of Labor & Industries' top billers for mileage, face felony theft charges that allege that they overbilled the state by thousands of dollars. The women lived in separate homes and ran separate businesses, interpreting for Spanish-speaking injured workers at medical appointments. Mendoza Garcia claimed in her mileage bills that she started her trips from the address of a Seattle sports clinic because she had appointments there, but the clinic staff did not know her. She sometimes billed for 500 to 800 miles in one day. Del Rocio Gonzalez claimed to start her trips more than 30 miles away from her home. She told investigators that the address she used, where she had lived four years earlier, was on a billing template in her iPad, and she never changed it.   Read more

Clinical Research Nurse Charged With Workers’ Compensation Fraud and Perjury (CT) – Cheryl Fullerton has been charged with fraudulent receipt of workers’ compensation benefits and perjury. Fullerton collected benefits because she claimed that she was unable to work because of a work-related injury she sustained while working as a clinical research nurse. But video surveillance showed Fullerton performing many daily chores that she claimed she was unable to do, and her treating physician and an independent medical examiner who reviewed the video concluded that she did have the capacity to fulfill the duties of a clinical research nurse.   Read more

Each week we'll be surveying what the media, state agencies, insurance companies, and others report in terms of workers' comp fraud. Just like a police blotter, our workers' comp fraud blotter lists recent arrests, charges, convictions and investigations.

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