Calif. Authorities Get ‘Leg Up’ on Workers’ Comp Fraud Case

February 13, 2006

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi reported the arrest of Alejandro Ruiz Lopez, 26, on felony charges of workers’ compensation fraud after an investigation revealed that Lopez allegedly falsified a claim stemming from his broken leg.

Lopez was arrested by investigators from the California Department of Insurance’s Fraud Division and booked into the Los Angeles County jail on $20,000 bail. On July 8, 2003, while working as a carpenter for TR Wurster Construction (TR Wurster), Lopez alleged that he fell off a scaffold and broke his right leg. He reported a work-related injury and, as a result, the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) paid him $13,779.22 in benefits.

On Oct. 30, 2003, TR Wurster discovered that Lopez allegedly broke his leg not at work, but while playing soccer. The company immediately alerted SCIF, which subsequently notified the Fraud Division. The case was forwarded to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, which issued an arrest warrant for Lopez on Nov. 1, 2004. However, after the arrest warrant was issued, Lopez fled the state and took refuge in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Lopez was arrested by Fraud investigators who staked out his scheduled Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board hearing last Tuesday. “Mr. Lopez allegedly broke his leg running on the soccer field,” said Garamendi. “But as this arrest demonstrates, you can only run so far before your crime catches up to you.”

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