Home > Fraud, News > Fraud-o-Coasters

Fraud-o-Coasters

The world of California Workers’ Compensation can seem like a rollercoaster ride sometimes.  The ups and downs, the twists and spins, and the feeling of gratitude when you get out alive.  For some applicants, however, the relationship between rollercoasters and workers’ compensation is a different one.

April Metzinger of La Puente, pled guilty to charges of insurance fraud after private investigators hired by her employer recorded video of her riding rollercoasters at Disneyland, among other activities that would be at odds with her workers’ compensation claims and deposition testimony.

Metzinger was arrested, and, as part of her plea deal, paid $5,000 in restitution, served two days in jail (credited from before the plea deal), and fined $100.

Meanwhile, the school district that was her employer no doubt already paid more than $5,000 on this claim, let alone its administration and investigation.  The people of Los Angeles County probably paid more than $5,000 in the arrest, detention, and prosecution of this case alone.

Given the fact that this fraudster was a teacher, the lesson learned by her students is not one on which your modest blogger dares to set a price tag.

I understand the difficulty in prosecuting these cases – video is sometimes not enough, and the District Attorney probably has bigger problems to deal with.  But unless we step up punishment of such cases, and, more importantly, recovery for the employers and insurers, the disincentives of workers’ comp fraud a too little to do the job.

Dear readers, please, don’t let me be misunderstood – by no means is your determined and fearless blogger suggesting that the lack of recovery in fraud cases justifies turning a blind eye or allowing frauds such as Ms. Metzinger to go unpunished.  But I am suggesting that the sad fact of life is that loss due to fraud, whether the cost of deterrence or the damage of attrition, is a cost that is not going away and must be factored into employer budgets.  Ultimately, this higher cost finds its way to grocery bills and price tags, and all the fair citizens of California end up paying the price.

Categories: Fraud, News
  1. Ed Rutyna
    December 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Unfortunately, the light sentence should not come as a surprise to those familiar with the California budget crisis, and the resultant under-funding of the court and prison system. With California under a federal mandate to reduce prison crowding, nonviolent criminals, like the fraudster teacher, will continue to receive very little, if any, prison time.

    G. Gordon Liddy, the infamous Watergate mastermind, wrote a few decades ago that white collar crime largely goes unpunished in America. Perhaps restitution petitions, and vigorous enforcement of restitution orders, will act as a stopgap remedy for employers and insurers until California can adequately fund its court and prison systems?

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