Home > Uncategorized > COA: Each False Statement Can Be A Sep. Fraud Count

COA: Each False Statement Can Be A Sep. Fraud Count

Happy Wednesday, dear readers!

You know, it strikes me that there is a perception amongst some members of our little workers’ compensation community that prosecution of workers’ compensation fraud is a bad thing.  Why are we hurting the poor workers who are just struggling to get by?

Well, prosecuting and deterring fraud is of a benefit to everyone, especially the worker considering engaging in fraud to pad his or her benefits.  The criminal prosecution and conviction can have serious consequences for the individual, ones that last much longer than any restitution or incarceration – a conviction puts one at a serious disadvantage when seeking later work.

In an unpublished decision, the Court of Appeal recently ruled in the criminal matter of People v. Snow, that even though her various statements that constituted perjury were all part of the same “material matter”, each false statement gives rise to separate convictions for each statement.

The facts are pretty simple – Snow alleged an injury to her wright wrist based on a CT, and claimed she was severely limited in her day-to-day activity, but then was caught by a sub rosa investigator carrying a 12-foot paddleboard 150 feet to the water, and then paddling out to sea, before returning and carrying the boat back to her car.

Subsequent sub rosa video showed Snow engaged in various other activities which she told her doctors, and testified at deposition, that she could not do.

Following her criminal trial, a jury convicted Snow on different counts of insurance fraud for the various statements she made.  She was sentenced to three years for each count, to be served concurrently.

The Court of Appeal rejected Snow’s argument, and found that each false statement, even though it was about the same subject matter, could form the basis of a separate count for prosecution and conviction purposes.

In this case, the sentences were to be served concurrently for each count, which means that the time applicant will serve is fairly limited (3 years, of which 1 will be mandatory supervision).  But the prospect of a possible consecutive sentence for other would-be fraudsters is a fairly good thing and should have some deterrent value.

There are so many instances where workers can exaggerate their symptoms and conceal their true causes, and then brag to co-workers about “winning the lottery.”  Cases such as these, where a fraudster is not only punished, but (thanks to Google) is effectively branded for future dealings, serve as a good counter-balance to the harvest of fraud.

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