Fraud News Around the Nation

May 12, 2016
Veteran Vegas K-9 Police Officer Denies Fraud, Arson Allegations

A veteran Las Vegas police K-9 officer is denying that he burned his recreational vehicle trailer in January for insurance money.

Defense attorney Andrew Leavitt said Wednesday that Jeff Lynn Harper, 36, removed a flat tire from the parked toy-hauler along a Nevada highway and drove to Pahrump to repair it when fire destroyed the trailer and an all-terrain vehicle inside.

“Somebody torched the trailer,” Leavitt said. “He didn’t do it.”

Harper was current on payments for the trailer and the ATV, Leavitt added, suggesting that he wouldn’t have any motive to destroy them.

State Attorney General Adam Laxalt said fire investigators determined the fire had been set, and he blamed Harper.

Charges filed Monday accuse Harper of insurance fraud, theft, attempted theft and arson. A conviction could get Harper decades in prison and put him on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in restitution.

A Las Vegas judge on Wednesday set a June 1 preliminary hearing. Harper remains free on bond.

Harper joined the department in September 1999, a Las Vegas police spokeswoman said. He will be suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case, she said.

Baker, Technician Charged in separate Washington Workers’ Comp Scams

A Washington baker and a technician have been charged with stealing thousands of dollars in disability benefits in unrelated fraud cases.

Yurizan Cuevas (also known as Yurizan Cuevas Nava) and Kyle Valle are accused of falsely claiming they couldn’t work because of workplace injuries and then accepting workers’ compensation payments. Each is slated to appear in court this week to face one count of first-degree, felony theft.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the cases based on investigations by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Yurizan Cuevas was working as a baker and cashier at a café in the White Center neighborhood of Seattle when it was robbed in November 2010. While running from the robber, she claimed she hit a wall and injured her back.

Cuevas filed for workers’ comp, and health care providers verified she couldn’t work because of injuries from the incident. This allowed her to receive wage-replacement checks from L&I.

An L&I investigation later revealed, however, that Cuevas worked full time as a nanny, earning an estimated $3,200 a month for nearly two years starting in September 2011. According to charging papers, she also worked six weeks in 2011 as a house cleaner for another employer ‒ performing both jobs while stating on official forms that she could not work because of her injuries.

In an interview with an L&I investigator, Cuevas acknowledged that she worked as a housekeeper and said she babysat for just a few days. But when confronted with timesheets, charging papers said, Cuevas admitted she served as a nanny from the time her charge was three months old to two years old. She’s accused of stealing more than $24,800 in wage-replacement checks from the state.

Kyle Valle was injured when he hit his head on a support joist while working in Kirkland as a service technician for a waterproofing company in May 2014. Valle filed a workers’ comp claim, and medical providers verified he couldn’t work full time due to head and neck injuries.

Valle stated on official forms that he was unable to work due to his workplace injury. In reality, court documents said, an L&I check of Employment Security Department records and an interview with a Seattle used-car dealership found that Valle worked as a tow truck driver for the dealership from September 2014 through early June 2015.

Valle is charged with stealing nearly $10,500 in wage-replacement checks and nearly $2,100 in vocational services from L&I.

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