Calif. State Fund Preaches Misgivings of Workers’ Comp Fraud; Sacramento Minister Convicted

May 11, 2004

A Sacramento County, California Superior Court Judge has sentenced a part-time minister, Benjamin L. Barnes, 37, to 300 days in jail, five years of probation and ordered him to pay State Compensation Insurance Fund $60,000 in restitution following his conviction on eight counts of felony workers’ compensation fraud and one count of perjury.

On Nov. 22, 2000, the Sacramento resident claimed an injury to his leg and back while working as a technician for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Barnes filed for workers’ comp benefits with State Compensation Insurance Fund, which administers workers’ comp claims services for DMV.

He reportedly told State Fund claim adjusters and physicians that his leg and back pain prevented him from sitting, walking, standing, bending or driving as usual. State Fund accepted Barnes’ claim and soon after issued medical, industrial disability leave and temporary disability benefits.

However, a subrosa investigation initiated by State Fund reportedly showed Barnes performing activities – that he claimed he could not do – without limitations. State Fund referred their subrosa investigation and other reports to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

Barnes was subsequently arrested by the Sacramento County District
Attorney’s Office and charged with eight counts of felony workers’
comp fraud (violation of Section 1871.4(a)(1) of the Insurance Code,
conspiracy to unlawfully and knowingly make false statements for the purpose of obtaining compensation). He was also charged with one count of attempted perjury, according to Sacramento Deputy District Attorney Joseph Townsell.

According to investigation reports, Barnes told several of his treating
physicians that his work injury limited his daily activities. Subrosa
videotapes indicated otherwise.

Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Joseph Townsell said Barnes, who also served as a minister at New Life Family Worship Center in Sacramento, was filmed conducting a gravesite ceremony, driving to and from the worship center and sitting and standing for an extended period. Barnes claimed he was unable to stand for extended periods of time and unable to drive the distance from his home and the worship center,
said Townsell.

State Fund paid more than $60,000 in medical payments and compensation on Barnes’ claim.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.