Calif. Woman Takes Permanent Vacation Following Conviction on Workers’ Comp Fraud Charge

April 9, 2004

Ventura County (Calif.) District Attorney Gregory Totten announced that the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit has obtained the conviction of defendant Karren Jeanette Thomas (DOB 12/10/56), of Ojai, of one felony count of workers’ compensation fraud.

Thomas was a part-time employee of the Ventura County Star in their sales and circulation department. Shortly after being denied a vacation request, Thomas reportedly claimed she suffered a work-related injury, and, unable to work, began receiving Temporary Total Disability payments.

A probe by the underwriting insurance company reportedly revealed that Thomas was operating a manicure business and receiving income without notifying the insurer, which is prohibited when a person is receiving Temporary Total Disability payments. Thomas then reportedly testified under oath at a deposition that she could not use her injured hand; was not performing manicures for paying customers while using her injured hand; could not lift items heavier than a book; and could not drive her husband’s pickup truck.

A surveillance videotape obtained by the insurance company’s special investigations unit reportedly showed Thomas lifting heavy furniture; using her injured hand to hoist a color television into the back of a truck; and depicted her driving her husband’s pickup truck.

Superior Court Judge Rebecca Riley ordered Thomas to pay $26,000 restitution to RSKCO (formerly CNA), with interest accruing at 10 percent per year starting April 6, and $10,000 in fines.

The court elected not to send Thomas to the California Department of Corrections at this time, instead placing her on 60-
months formal probation and sentencing her to 120 days in the Ventura County Jail. Thomas was also ordered to pay a monthly probation supervision fee of $44; to reimburse the Probation Agency $1,458 for the cost of its investigation, and, as a condition of probation, was prohibited from owning or possessing a weapon.

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