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Workplace Safety


By March 1, 2013No Comments

Everything is not “coming up roses” for a California gardener charged with Workers Compensation fraud and perjury.

Jose Cortez earned his living as a gardener until October 2010, when a large tree branch fell and landed on him during his shift. He was transported to a local hospital and sent home with “minor work restrictions.

Although Cortez filed for Workers Comp, claiming that the injuries sustained that day prevented him from completing his customary work duties, not everyone was convinced. The following year, a tip aroused enough suspicion for his insurance company to initiate video surveillance, which revealed that Cortez was carrying on as if it were business as usual.

In September 2012, investigators from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit conducted a criminal investigation, collecting surveillance footage of Cortez, who was still collecting under his claim. On January 21, 2013, prosecutors filed criminal charges against Cortez, resulting in a felony arrest warrant being issued. If convicted, he could enter a system far different from Workers Comp – state prison, where he could serve as many as eight years.

“This type of fraud is harmful because it causes premiums that businesses have to pay to go higher,” says Deputy Assistant District Attorney Scott Byrd. “It drains business profits, which in turn costs honest workers money in raises or other benefits that they may have been eligible to receive.” A word to the wise.